Brown, Tatum Display Passing Prowess in Win Over Toronto
The Toronto Raptors came to TD Garden Thursday night prepared to slow down Boston’s high-scoring tandem of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, and they did a heck of a job in doing so, limiting the star duo to a combined 8-of-27 shooting clip from the field.
However, what Toronto may not have been prepared for was how both Brown and Tatum would combat its aggressive defensive game plan by finding ways to get their teammates involved.
Together, Brown and Tatum dished out 19 of Boston’s 30 assists, as they helped to fuel a career-high 24-point outpour for Semi Ojeleye, a much-needed 21-point performance for Kemba Walker, and an electric 20-point effort for rookie Payton Pritchard.
Although they only combined for 29 points themselves, Brown and Tatum’s joint playmaking was the difference in a 120-106 Celtics win.
“Our whole team knew and knows that Toronto does as good of a job as anybody in the league at loading up to great players, and they showed [Brown and Tatum] a lot of attention,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said after the game. “[The Raptors are] helpful at the nail, they're helpful out of the corner, they're helpful all over and so you have to be a willing, quick decision-maker.”
Brown showed off his decision-making skills by dishing out a career-high 10 assists, while Tatum handed out nine helpers of his own.
Meanwhile, their teammates did an excellent job of spacing the floor and knocking down open buckets. Ojeleye and Pritchard both made 6-of-8 from 3-point range and Walker canned 5-of-8 from deep, as they became just the fourth trio of teammates in NBA history to make five-plus 3-pointers apiece on at least 60 percent shooting.
“For us that are off the ball, it’s always about being ready,” said Ojeleye. “And those guys are great passers, scorers, great players – Jayson, Jaylen, Kemba – those guys that are always on the ball. So it’s always about being ready and giving them space to operate, and they’ll find you whenever you’re open.”
Walker, in particular, was ready for a game like this after going through a difficult shooting stretch on Boston’s recent West Coast trip. And he gave full credit to Brown and Tatum for helping to dig him out of an offensive rut via their playmaking.
“[Brown and Tatum] are so talented and there is going to be so much attention on those guys, so they just made the right play tonight,” said the veteran point guard. “They are very capable of that. Two special guys and they wanted to get guys involved, especially me. They really wanted to get me involved tonight because they know I've been struggling. So big ups to those guys, for real.”
Both Brown and Tatum are going to have to continue to get their teammates involved in order for Boston to reach its fullest potential because opposing defenses will just keep getting more and more aggressive against those two as they continue to score the ball at a high rate.
“The better you get, the more attention you get and the more you have to make those plays,” said Stevens. “Both those guys are in the group of players that draw a lot of attention and so it's something that they're gonna have to continue to do for us to be the best that we can be.”