Brown Makes Promise To Do More, But He'll Need Help Along the Way
Fresh off of scoring a career-high 42 points Friday night against Philadelphia, Jaylen Brown sat at his postgame press conference and boldly declared, “I can do more. I will do more.”
Be careful of how you interpret that statement.
Brown wasn’t talking about dropping 50 or 60 points on an upcoming Celtics opponent. Instead, he was referencing a boost to his play at the other end of the court, where he and his teammates struggled to contain their opponent yet again Friday night while suffering a 122-110 loss to the 76ers.
“A lot of that is on me,” Brown said, taking ownership of Boston’s ineffective defense. “I’m one of the defensive leaders and captains on this team, and I’ve got to be a better leader on that side of the ball.”
That responsibility surely does not fall squarely on Brown’s back. It is a shared responsibility among the entire team, and one which has rarely been fulfilled this season.
Friday marked the 12th instance in 14 games that the Celtics have allowed their opponent to score at least 105 points. After Friday’s loss, Boston had slipped all the way to 21st in the league in defensive rating – a far cry from its top-six performance in that category during each of the last three seasons.
Brown and many of his current teammates played key roles on those fantastic defenses of the past. They’ve even had their moments of defensive effectiveness this season. As such, Brown indicated that this isn’t a question of can the Celtics defend? It’s instead a question of will they defend?
“We just gotta get that tenacity back,” Brown commented. “We’ve had it. This team is capable of it. We’ve had it at times. So I don’t think it’s a lack of (ability). We’ve just gotta have a mentality to do it every night.”
That mentality has been missing far more often than not this season, including Friday night. Brad Stevens didn’t mince his words on that topic following this latest lackluster defensive performance.
Stevens refused to use injuries or absences as a reason for his team’s ineffective defense. He instead opted to highlight the fact that injuries and absences only heighten the need for a commitment to playing the right way.
“That’s why everybody’s got to be in the right spots all the time, everybody’s got to be spaced appropriately all the time, play with the right connectivity defensively,” Brad Stevens said after the loss. “We’re not going to win a game with the group that we have giving up 122 points.”
That statement was a dose of reality for the Celtics, but Stevens took it a step further just seconds later.
“Until we’re really committed to that, like I said earlier this week, I just don’t see us being sustainably competitive,” the coach said.
For what it’s worth, Brown sure made it sound like he’ll be committed on that front moving forward. Still, he’s going to need a lot of help in order to move the needle for Boston.
Brown has been the leading option for Boston’s offense while Jayson Tatum has been sidelined for the last two games, and while Kemba Walker has slowly returned to game action. Hence his 42-point outburst Friday night, which took his season scoring average up to 26.9 points per game.
It’s great to see that Brown is capable of filling the role of superstar scorer, but Boston cannot rely on one player to carry the offense and also be a defensive lynchpin on a nightly basis. The more the Celtics spread the wealth offensively, the more gas will be left in the tank at the defensive end for elite defenders like Brown and Tatum to make an impact.
As Walker put it, “We gotta help them out.”
That being said, Brown sounds like he’s committed to attacking the task of fulfilling both roles moving forward.
“Just really making people’s nights a living hell,” he said of the impact aims to make with his defense. “I can do that and be great offensively at the same time. It just takes a level of conditioning and a mentality and a focus, and I’m capable of it.”
Brown then ended his press conference by stating yet again, “I can do more. I will do more.”
It’s hard to imagine him doing so following his 42-point, nine-rebound performance against the team that sits atop the Eastern Conference standings. But the Celtics might need it moving forward.
They need their top scorers to score. They need their top defenders to impact the ball. They need their entire team to commit to giving the level of effort that’s necessary to slow opponents down.
Brown and the Celtics know very well what’s required of them. Now it’s just a question of, will they answer the call?