Brown Unfazed by C’s Preseason Struggles: ‘I Believe in Our System’
The Boston Celtics aren’t getting caught up in their two preseason losses this week, even following a 113-89 loss to the Brooklyn Nets Friday night at TD Garden. That’s because they have faith in their roster, they have trust in their system, and they believe it’ll only be a matter of time before they’re back in a rhythm and playing like the team that was an Eastern Conference finalist just three months ago.
After all, it’s called the preseason for a reason.
“I’m not worried,” Jaylen Brown said following Friday’s loss, which was preceded by a 108-99 loss in Philadelphia Tuesday night. “I’m not worried at all. I believe in our system, our coaching staff and the guys that we have. We’ve just got to come out and get a rhythm and get a feel for playing with each other.
“Obviously we’ve got some guys that are out (Romeo Langford, Tristan Thompson and Kemba Walker), and obviously we’ve got some guys that are stepping into new roles, and we’re just going through that process. It’s a long season. We all know that. We’d love to have that learning process sped up, but we’re going to stick with it. I believe in this organization and system and team, and I feel like we’ll improve in the right direction.”
The Celtics have four days to get themselves headed in the right direction before opening the regular season at home Wednesday night against reigning two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. And the C’s can be sure that these next four days will be jam-packed with film sessions and intense practices geared toward get their minds and bodies ready for the upcoming 72-game grind.
“We’re going to have to make sure we get a lot better and get ready for Wednesday,” said head coach Brad Stevens. “We’ve got a really good team, Milwaukee, coming in. At the same time, these games are exhibition games for a reason, so we’ll learn from them and move on.”
There are several areas in which Stevens and his players believe they can improve, from their shot-making, to their defensive communication, to simply building the right habits whenever they step foot on the court.
Boston was deficient in all of the above Friday night, leading to its defeat. But the good news is that those are all fixable issues.
For example, there aren’t going to be many instances in which we see the Celtics shoot just 34.8 percent from the field and 17.8 percent from 3-point range over the course of a game, which is exactly how they fared Friday night.
“That’s not acceptable. We’ve gotta make some shots,” Brown said of his team’s dismal shooting numbers. “We got open looks. It wasn’t like the defense was stifling. We got open looks and we gotta knock them down – step in with confidence and knock ‘em down. I think if we can do that, the narrative is a little bit different. Brooklyn, obviously give them a lot of credit, those guys look good. But we have a lot of room for improvement.”
As for building the right habits and putting forth a consistent effort, Brown isn’t too concerned about those areas either. Having now been through four full seasons with the Celtics, he knows first-hand how hard this team works and how much pride he and his teammates have in contributing toward Boston’s winning tradition.
“When you’re on the Celtics team, you can’t be counted out because there’s a fight about this city, and there’s a fight about this organization,” the 24-year-old stated. “So we’re going to come out and fight.”
There will be some extra obstacles added to the Celtics’ fight this season, such as the fact that they can no longer rely upon receiving a mental boost from their home fans, which could have come in handy against Friday night’s challenging opponent. But that’s all part of the preseason adjustment process.
“That's part of the challenge, finding our own energy,” said Jayson Tatum. “Kind of like the bubble. We've got to find our own energy.”
And where will that energy come from?
“That starts with me,” answered Brown. “That starts with (Marcus) Smart. And that starts with JT. We’ve got to set the tone, and those young guys will follow suit. But it starts with us, and we’ve got to come out and play with more tenacity, more energy. And we will.”