BOSTON — Given the loaded roster from top to bottom, it was understood coming into the season that every member of the Boston Celtics was going to need to sacrifice.
For some players, like Jaylen Brown, the sacrifice and level of adjustment has been greater than others. Brown, who started 85 total games for the Celtics last season, only has started two of his last 14 games played after being featured in the starting five for the first 19 he appeared in this season.
But Brown has taken the tactical change in stride, and he’s beginning to flourish in his new role. The third-year swingman is averaging 15.5 points over his last six games, with his latest strong performance coming in Wednesday’s 135-105 win over the Indiana Pacers at TD Garden. Brown notched a team-high 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting with seven rebounds over 28 minutes.
There’s reason to believe Brown won’t be a permanent fixture on the Celtics’ second unit, as head coach Brad Stevens never has been hesitant to shake things up and injuries can happen. But regardless of how he’s being utilized, Brown is going to control what he can control.
“We’ve got a lot of players, a lot of pieces out there,” Brown said. “Just trying to figure out who you are and where you fit into this team. It’s going to continue to change. Things like that you just have to be patient, continue to work hard and everything will fall into place.”
Kyrie Irving has been impressed by how Brown has handled his new role.
“We’ve all had to adjust,” Irving said. “We all try to pinpoint one guy. He hasn’t shot the ball as well or hasn’t had the opportunity as everyone else in certain situations, the minutes, regardless of whatever reason it is. But I think now it’s just in terms of the maturity of just being out there and being comfortable with what he’s doing and understanding why he’s doing it. Stronger cuts, better passes, better offensive decisions. It’s just things you’ve got to mature as a player being on a great team.
“We’re not on a good team, we’re on a great one,” Irving added. “We’ve got the talent to be great. It’s tough for an adjustment for any young player, especially coming in and they have expectations. But Jaylen’s doing a great job of taking it all in and really just adjusting as much he can and learning from all the veterans ahead of him. We all can learn something from one another.”
The Celtics appear to be learning something about themselves on a game-by-game basis, and as the collective unit continues to get more comfortable, Boston could begin to take off like so many expected it to.
Here are some other notes from Wednesday’s Celtics-Pacers game:
— Boston logged 30 assists, marking the fifth consecutive game it has dished out 30-plus dimes. It’s been quite some time since the franchise posted a similar streak.
— Marcus Morris matched Brown with 22 points, good for his ninth performance of 20-plus points this season. Morris had nine games of 20 points or more all of last season.
— The Pacers had won seven of their last eight games entering Wednesday.
— Boston’s 135 points represented a new season-high.
— The new year has been very kind to the C’s thus far, as they’ve trailed in just one of their 16 quarters played in 2019.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images