The Boston Celtics have their work cut out for them entering the NBA Playoffs without Jaylen Brown.
Brown, as you may have heard, will miss the remainder of the season with a wrist injury. He is expected to undergo surgery later this week, putting an end to his campaign after he averaged nearly 25 points and six rebounds per game.
It begs the question: How will the Celtics adapt without him?
Well, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens noted how Boston is no stranger to playing without a key contributor as they had done so in postseasons past without Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, etc. Stevens knows now it will be about the C’s reinventing themselves without arguably their best two-way player.
“Well, listen, we’ve been here before, right? You make small tweaks to not overhaul yourself, but reinvent yourself,” Stevens said during a pregame video conference before Tuesday’s game against the Miami Heat. “You do things maybe a little bit differently in coverages than you’ve done before because you’re a little bit less versatile. You play a style that’s more suited maybe to other guys that will get more time. We have to be able to adjust to that. Everybody goes through that.
“We’re going to have to make small tweaks to reinvent ourselves on the fly a little bit because he’s a critical part of what we were doing and how we like to play on both ends of the court,” Stevens said. “Most things remain the same, it’s not an ideal time to do that, but ultimately that’s the challenging task.”
Stevens specifically acknowledged how the Celtics’ defense will have to come together to fill the void after Brown had been one of the team’s most versatile and effective players on that end.
“Well, I think the biggest thing is, scoring is one thing but the physical strength and physicality of Jaylen on the defensive end, and his ability to drive through people, is different,” Stevens said. “You’re not going to necessarily have that ability from a scoring standpoint, but you certainly have different ways and different people you can go to. Nobody is going to replace him by himself.”
Ultimately, as Stevens explained, Jayson Tatum will be called to guard power forwards along with Marcus Smart, something Brown had done much of the year. Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier, likely two of the other three starters, won’t be able to do so as effectively.
Whether that makes bigger-bodies like Jabari Parker, Semi Ojeleye or Grant Williams more enticing off the bench remains to be seen, but Stevens noted it could come to that point.
“There’s a physicality we’re going to have to find,” Stevens said.
Stevens does, however, believe the Celtics have enough to be a nuisance.