BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 18: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics and Jayson Tatum #0 look on during the first half against the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden on October 18, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Truth Proclaims Tatum, Brown as NBA's Best Duo

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

Paul Pierce made a bold proclamation following Boston’s season-opening win over the Philadelphia 76ers, which featured a combined 70 points on 61.3 percent shooting from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

“NBA Best Duo Tatum and Brown hands down (sic),” he tweeted after the Celtics’ 126-117 victory.

And he might just be right.

Really, what other duos could be considered? The one the Celtics just beat last night? The one in LA that got clobbered Tuesday night by the defending champs? The one in Brooklyn which the Celtics swept out of the Playoffs last season?

Certainly, an argument could be made for those duos and more, but none of them have ever accomplished what Tatum and Brown did during the NBA’s season opener. In fact, no duo in the last 53 years had done what Tatum and Brown did Tuesday night.

That’s right – not MJ and Pippen, not Shaq and Kobe, not Steph and Klay, not LeBron and D-Wade – none of them, or any other duo over the last half-century for that matter, was able to simultaneously put up 35 or more points apiece on Opening Night like Tatum and Brown did against the Sixers. The last pair of teammates to do so was Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West, way back in 1969.

That’s impressive in its own right, but when you consider how Tatum and Brown accomplished that feat, it becomes even more eye-opening.

The high majority of their work was done from inside the arc, which is a surprise given the fact that they’re perimeter-oriented players whose big scoring nights are oftentimes fueled by hot 3-point shooting. Tuesday night, however, the duo relied upon their ability to score in the midrange, at the basket, and at the free-throw line.

Tatum got to the rack for six makes from inside the restricted area, and he shot 7-for-8 overall from inside the paint. He also canned five of his six shots from the midrange. Brown, meanwhile, shot 4-for-4 from the restricted area, 6-for-8 from inside the paint, and 5-for-6 from the midrange. They combined to shoot 10-for-12 from the free-throw line.

Boston’s star duo took the game over while shooting a combined 6-for-19 from beyond the 3-point arc. That, folks, is a significant development that serves as an indication that the best is yet to come from these two still-budding stars.

“They’re three-level scorers,” Derrick White said Wednesday of Tatum and Brown. “They can score from really anywhere on the court, so it’s difficult for the defense. You never really know where to stop them.”

Tatum and Brown continue to become more lethal offensive players because of their commitment to personal and team improvement. As interim head coach Joe Mazzulla commented after Wednesday’s practice, their pursuit of perfection is endless.

“They’re hungry. They’re great people. They’re great players. And they really have a desire to get better every single day on both ends of the court,” Mazzulla said. “And they want to know the why; they want to know why this worked, why it didn’t work, and how it can work better.”

Heading into this season, it was hard to imagine a world where Tatum and Brown could possibly be better than they were last season. But here we are, after only one game, realizing that they needed only one night to enter themselves into to the record books with their dominant play.

Pierce was decisive in his comment that Tatum and Brown, who are just 24 and 25 years old, respectively, are the best duo in the entire NBA. Based upon what we saw Tuesday, it’s hard to argue with him.