Brown & Tatum Join Elite Company After Friday’s Combined Effort
BOSTON – Tommy Heinsohn and Bill Russell. Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
Three dynamic duos from three different Celtics generations that have shared one common characteristic: the ability to score together, in volume, from the onset of their respective careers.
Along the same lines, those three tandems now also share one common feat: they are the only sets of teammates in franchise history to score at least 30 points in the same game at age 23 or younger, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
Brown, 23, and Tatum, 21, joined the elite club during Friday afternoon’s matchup against Cleveland, as Brown erupted for a career-high 34 points, while Tatum tacked on 30 of his own in a 129-117 Celtics win.
The two rising stars were remarkably even in their shot distribution, each attempting 10 field goals inside the arc, and 10 field goals beyond the arc. They both shot at least 50 percent from the field and from deep, as they took turns dismantling Cleveland’s defense.
“I think both of us together, it's hard for teams to scheme and stop us both,” said Brown, who has now reached the 30-point mark in consecutive outings. “We just try to come out and be aggressive, and days like today, they couldn't stop either of us.”
Which is nothing out of the ordinary, if you ask Brad Stevens.
“I don’t think we saw anything today that we haven’t seen out of those guys in the last couple of weeks, last couple months,” said the Celtics coach. “They’ve been playing well. They’re obviously playing confidently, and they feel good.”
To elaborate on Stevens’ point, Brown and Tatum have now scored at least 20 points apiece in the same game on nine different occasions this season. It’s no coincidence that the Celtics are 9-0 in those games.
“One thing that makes them special is that they don’t just make themselves better,” said teammate Enes Kanter. “They make everyone better around them.”
It’s a dynamic that organizations dream of creating. And it’s exactly the type of dynamic that the Celtics envisioned when they drafted Brown and Tatum with back-to-back No. 3 picks in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
“We’ve known from the moment that they stepped on the court, and they first started games together, even before Gordon (Hayward) got hurt (in 2017), when we had those guys in that first training camp you could see [their chemistry] was pretty unique,” said Stevens. “When we drafted Jayson we thought having those two versatile wings that could guard a number of different positions and do a number of different things, but also weren’t exactly the same players, but would be good complements for each other.”
Because of their complementary efforts, Brown and Tatum often earn complimentary remarks. Cavaliers All-Star Kevin Love was the latest opponent to dish out praise for the young duo after succumbing to their combined efforts Friday afternoon.
“When you have [what they have], it just kind of opens up the game for everybody else,” said Love, who dropped 30 points of his own during the matchup. “You see progression from both of those guys and they’re going to continue to get better because they’re so young and hungry to get better.”
It’s a daunting prospect that the rest of the league has to face – that these two teammates, who both are playing at an All-Star level, are probably a few years away from hitting their respective primes. For Brown and Tatum, though, it’s something to both cherish and look forward to.
“It’s fun for both of us to be playing well and contributing to winning,” said Tatum. “And hopefully we can keep it going.”