Why Jaylen Brown's reaction to Jayson Tatum's strong play should thrill Celtics fans

Why Jaylen Brown's reaction to Jayson Tatum's strong play should thrill Celtics fans

The Boston Celtics' 2018-19 season got derailed in part because there were too many mouths to feed.

You could argue the same scenario is possible on the 2019-20 Celtics: With Jayson Tatum blossoming into a superstar alongside established All-Stars Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward, a young talent like Jaylen Brown may get overlooked.

But that scenario doesn't seem possible -- because Brown refuses to let it happen.

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Here's the 23-year-old wing after Tatum went off for 36 points in Tuesday's 118-106 win over the Portland Trail Blazers:

"You’ve got to want for your brother what you want for yourself," Brown told reporters. " ... He’s playing unreal. He’s playing the best ball of his career. So let’s keep going. Let’s see how we can keep feeding it to him. If he keeps making shots like that, I don’t see why not, right?"

Brown and Tatum share a close bond as No. 3 overall picks in the 2016 and 2017 NBA Drafts, respectively, both thriving during the 2018 playoffs in the absences of Hayward and Kyrie Irving.

While Brown is enjoying his own career season -- he tallied 24 points Tuesday and is averaging 20.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game -- Tatum has skyrocketed past him as an elite NBA talent who earned his first All-Star nod this season.

Yet Brown bristled at the notion that Tatum's recent success has "motivated" him to elevate his own game.

"I don’t look at it as he motivates me," Brown said, via Mass Live's Tom Westerholm. "I’m supporting him, and I think we’re on the same team so it’s not a contrast one against the other.

"I know a lot of times people try to dichotomize Jaylen. We’re on the same team. As he’s doing well, I’m doing well. If I’m doing well, he’s doing well, because we’re on the same team."

That response should be music to Celtics fans' ears after chemistry issues hastened a second-round playoff exit for last season's talented squad.

This season's Celtics are certainly benefiting from Tatum and Brown's success: Boston is 23-4 when Tatum scores 24 or more points and 15-1 when Brown drops 24 or more.

"He’s one of the biggest reasons we’ve been winning," Tatum acknowledged of Brown after the game.

Tatum and Brown's ability to thrive together is a big reason why the Celtics own the NBA's fourth-best record.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Jazz, which begins Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

It's a matter of when, not if, Jaylen Brown will be an NBA All-Star

It's a matter of when, not if, Jaylen Brown will be an NBA All-Star

BOSTON -- We should have seen this coming from Jaylen Brown. 

It’s not like he didn’t clue us in to how he was built differently than most players coming into the NBA. 

His first NBA start came against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, a game in which Brown showed absolutely no nerves, anxiety or fear of James as he went on to score a then-career-high 19 points in what was his fifth game as a pro. 

From there, Brown continued to show flashes of being an above-average talent, displaying an innate ability to successfully transition to whatever role he’s cast to play. 

With the NBA season at a standstill now, it provides us an opportunity to take in what Brown has done thus far. 

More significantly, it allows us to take inventory on what Brown’s body of work thus far tells us is on the horizon. 

The 23-year-old Brown is on course to establish himself as an All-Star whose strength lies in his versatility to impact the game at both ends of the floor. 

This season, Brown is averaging 20.3 points per game, joining teammates Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker as part of the only trio of NBA teammates this season with each averaging at least 20 points per game. 

Of that threesome, Brown’s inclusion is the most surprising when you consider it wasn’t a given that he would start, let alone drop 20 points a night, at the start of the season. 

A legit case could be made that Brown should have been an All-Star this season, with some surmising a top-two record by the Celtics prior to the break would have been enough to get him in along with Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum. 

But it’s fitting that Brown’s time to shine will have to wait. 

Because on many levels, that’s been the narrative surrounding his NBA career. 

And while it would have certainly deterred some and disappointed others, it only drove Brown to continue working on his game, proving his naysayers wrong - including those who booed Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck when he announced that Boston had selected Brown with the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. 

“Oh, I remember,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston recently. “I definitely remember.”

But instead of dwelling on what has happened, Brown is more locked into what the future holds for both him and the Celtics. 

“Just keep getting better, keep grinding, keep working on all parts of my game,” he said. “That’s what I’ve done, to get where I’m at. So why stop now?”

Classic Celtics: C's outlast Michael Jordan's Bulls in 1986 playoff thriller

Classic Celtics: C's outlast Michael Jordan's Bulls in 1986 playoff thriller

Want to witness one of the greatest individual performances in NBA history? Just tune into NBC Sports Boston on Sunday night.

Our "Classic Celtics" series -- which featured Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals on Friday night -- continues Sunday with a throwback: Game 2 of Boston's 1986 NBA playoffs first-round series with the Chicago Bulls.

That April 20, 1986, game at TD Garden was a defining moment for then-23-year-old Michael Jordan, who went off for an NBA postseason-record 63 points.

But Celtics fans can appreciate Jordan's masterful performance knowing that Boston outlasted Chicago 135-131 in double overtime and swept the series en route to an eventual NBA title.

The broadcast begins Sunday at 7 p.m. ET, and as an added bonus, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge -- who scored 24 points in this game while defending Jordan -- will join Brian Scalabrine to provide real-time commentary throughout the game.

Other reasons to watch:

- A vintage performance from Celtics star Larry Bird, who scored a team-high 36 points to go along with 12 rebounds and eight assists.

- The 1980s Celtics at their peak: Bird, Ainge, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson and Bill Walton all scored double figures.

- Jordan hitting two free throws in the final seconds of regulation to force the first overtime.

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