Tuesday, May 11 - Heat at Celtics
Pregame – How Brown's Absence Affects the Celtics
The trickle-down effect has already begun for the Boston Celtics in the aftermath of losing Jaylen Brown for the season with a left wrist injury.
Brad Stevens made it clear prior to Tuesday’s matchup with the Miami Heat that the Celtics are going to look a whole lot different without Brown than they did with him.
“You make small tweaks to not overhaul yourself, but reinvent yourself,” the coach said. He later added, “You do things maybe a little bit differently – coverages – maybe that you have before, because you’re maybe a little bit less versatile. You play a style that’s more suited maybe to other guys that will get more time. We just have to be able to adjust to that.”
Chief among the list of tweaks is figuring out a way to get by without the presence of Brown’s physicality. Brown is one of the longest and strongest players on the Celtics who is known both as a physical defender and a physical driver. Stevens said the Celtics will need to shift their top players into new roles and count on other reserves to help fill that void.
“Nobody’s gonna replace him by themselves,” said Stevens. “On [defense], what it does is it has basically forced in the last few games at least, Jayson (Tatum) has spent more time on the bigger guys, right? So Jayson has normally spent more time guarding 2s and 3s, and has been the whole year, and now there will be moments when he guards 4s.”
The coach then mentioned that two of Boston’s wing players who will likely be seeing a heavier workload without Brown, Evan Fournier and Aaron Nesmith, just aren’t capable of stepping in and guarding some of the bigger players on the opposing team.
“We’ll rotate (Marcus) Smart there some as well, but that’s tough with Fournier to do, and Aaron as well,” Stevens said. “You saw that the other day with some of Jimmy Butler’s drives against Aaron. Aaron tried to stop him, but Jimmy got to where he wanted to go.”
Despite missing Brown’s physicality and All-Star play at both ends, it’s not as if Stevens is mailing the season in. He’s at the other end of the spectrum. He believes that the Celtics remain fully capable of making some noise, just as they did during the 2018 postseason when they were missing both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward yet advanced to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
“We’ve been here before when some of our best players aren’t available, and you head into the postseason,” Stevens said, with an assumed nod to 2018. “We’ll see where we land and we’ll see what happens, but we have enough in the room to be a nuisance.”
- Marc D'Amico