For Celtics striker Jaylen Brown, coming from the bench is no different than walking or walking straight from the stands.
"Basketball is basketball," Brown said after Boston's 128-100 win over the New York Knicks on Thursday night. "It's all basketball."
If Brown, who had been in reserve since his freshman year in his first regular season game, felt differently, the 22-year-old certainly did not show it. Brown scored a season high of 21 points in 7:10 shooting, adding three rebounds and two assists. He finished as a plus-16 on the floor.
"I thought he was really good," said coach Brad Stevens. "I thought he had played with a lot of speed and intention and made really good decisions. I did not think anything was forced. When you leave the bank, this is one of the things you do: try to catch up quickly. He just played the right way. "
Brown's goal for the night was simple: "Be aggressive."
And he certainly kept that end to the deal. Brown not only scored all his points in the color or the free throw line, but also tried nine seasonal shots. Stevens has repeatedly stated that he is not concerned with the frequency with which the team shoots free throws – if he were, he would not be satisfied. The Celtics are ranked 28th in the league – but driving the ball seems to be a more effective method for Brown to cause insults, especially given his struggles behind the bow (25.3% shooting percentage) this season.
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Brown, who is usually one of Boston's five starters, was hit indefinitely by the first unit nearly two weeks ago, after suffering a frightening crash against the Dallas Mavericks. Before returning on Thursday, he missed three games with a low back bruise and back cramps. Brown said his back was "pretty well" against the Knicks in 25 minutes.
"It feels better when you win," he said.
Despite what Stevens had warned about endless changes to the rotation, the Celtics' offense has further changed and changed its identity, 115 points for the fourth game in a row. During this time, the team has reached its longest winning streak of the season (4), while it has the best offensive rating in the league (124.5) and the net rating (20.7).
Brown reiterated that he is for the best that is best for the collective, even if it means sacrificing parts of his individual game.
"All we have to do is win games," he said. "Whatever is needed, we just have to keep winning games."
No fun in November?
The rocky start into the Celtics season came as no surprise, Kyrie Irving told reporters.
"I think the most important thing we need to take away from our bouts early on is how much fun we did not have," he said. "It just was not fun. It was not a good basketball. We did not cheer and we did not do the little things. "
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"I know that certain guys would probably be afraid to talk about it," he continued. "But it continues in every NBA locker room, where guys have egos or boys a way they think [is] the best way to win. "
Irving said the group is now "having a lot more fun" as she begins to find her groove. He attributed the change to being able to set aside personal interests and place more emphasis on how the team plays than who plays them.
"It's like, OK, who's going to go out of their way every time? Who will challenge each other and hold each other accountable? "He said," You go from there, [and] Then you start building great mastery habits. "
Although the team is on the road to success, Irving was not too far ahead, reminding the reporters that "it's still a long season," regardless of whether the Celtics win or lose. However, when the team wins, it reiterates that players should "enjoy kicking people's asses".
"We should," he said with a smile. "We should really do it. The competition itself should make the most of yours. "
Celtics Center Aron Baynes is leaving the Celtics Knicks game on Thursday with a left sprain and will not return.
After 30:25 minutes in front of Boston and just under two minutes in the first quarter, Baynes was in pain immediately after landing awkwardly on his left ankle. He sat in front of the basket for a brief moment before getting up and limping to the locker room.
Stevens had no update for Baynes after the game, but he expects the big man to wait for relegation, no matter how severe the injury is.
"In typical Baynes fashion, he said he would do 3-on-3 exercises [Friday] After completing full sprints and running a marathon, he will prepare for the flight and on Saturday he will play, "Stevens said. "But I do not know if our doctors agree, so we'll see. Baynes believes he can play through everything. "
Irving was also popped against the Knicks. The 26-year-old warned a submarine with three and a half minutes before the fourth quarter because his shoulder bothered him.
"It was just a funny game at the end of the game," he said. "I do not know, I got caught and then I tried to get the ball out and pass it on to Marcus [Morris] for a three, it just struck me funny on my shoulder. Probably an AC joint or something. I do not diagnose myself. "
Irving said he met after the match with the team doctors and reckoned he was "all right".
"He did not seem too worried," Stevens added.
Next up for the Celtics are the Chicago Bulls Saturday Night at the United Center. Baynes drove two minutes from the bench on Thursday. This season he scored an average of 5.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 15.2 minutes.