Why Jaylen Brown's response to Jayson Tatum's ascension remains important

Nick Friar
February 26, 2020 - 6:15 am

Earlier in the season, Jaylen Brown had shown more growth than Jayson Tatum. That didn’t mean the ceiling had changed for either player, but Brown’s growth from 2018-19 to the start of 2019-20 was greater.

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But now it’s not even close. Brown has still been good, but Tatum has simply been on another level. Tatum was 14-for-22 from the floor (8-for-12 from 3-point territory) and finished with 36 points to Brown’s 24 points on 8-for-19 shooting (3-for-7 from deep) in the Celtics’ 118-106 win over the Blazers. (For a complete recap of the Celtics' win, click here.)

So, Brown was, once again, good, but Tatum was a bit better — and the former maintains he’s totally fine with that being the case.

“You’ve got to want for your brother what you want for yourself,” Brown told reporters in Portland. “So, as we go out (there) and we’re playing basketball games and Jayson gets it going, let’s keep going to him. That’s how I see it. And when the ball stops or he starts missing shots, then we’re there for him. But, right now, he’s playing unreal. He’s playing the best ball of his career. So, let’s keep going. Let’s keep it going. Let’s see how we can keep feeding it to him. If he keeps making shots like that, obviously, why not, right?”

Now, it’s a bit easier for both to get their fill against a Damian Lillard-less Portland team than it is against the Lakers or Bucks. Let’s just say “impressive” wouldn’t be a word that best describe’s the Blazers’ defense — though, the Celtics’ defense was not good at the beginning of the game. Boston allowed too many easy looks along the perimeter to start the night, which is something that’s been a problem too often this year. Just like Tatum, Brown and Kemba Walker’s play on the offensive end is essential for the Celtics’ success, Boston has to keep the defensive rotations tight from start to finish against both the good and bad teams.

Getting back to the dynamic of Boston’s two young talents, while Brown’s words off the court are important – especially after everything that went on last season — his play says more. He’s still able to find plenty of quality looks with the flow of the game, even though Tatum is starting to take over.

Their stat lines should look a little different when Walker returns. But unless Gordon Hayward or Marcus Smart go off for some reason, Tatum, Brown and Walker are going to get the most opportunities to score. They’ll have the chance to get theirs every night. So, while Tatum has become the top dog, Brown’s role has become more defined — which is what he’s wanted for quite some time.

“I don’t look at it as he motivates me — I’m supporting,” Brown said of Tatum. “We’re on the same team, so it’s not a contrast. … 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.”

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