DETROIT — Only one Boston Celtics player in Thursday’s impressive come-from-behind victory seemed to struggle in the second half: Jaylen Brown, who has had a rocky start to the year in general.
After the game, when asked what Brown needs to do to get back in track, Brad Stevens didn’t sound concerned.
“Keep guarding,” Stevens said. “Everything will work itself out. He’ll be fine.”
Sure enough, on Saturday, Brown broke out — dropping 19 points in Boston’s 109-89 victory over the Detroit Pistons on 6-for-13 shooting, including 3-for-7 from three. He hit threes off the catch and in transition, and he showed off a flashy handle.
Making it look easy pic.twitter.com/P8C4VpHv3g
a Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 28, 2018
Brown was asked if he needed a performance like that.
“I wasn’t tripping,” Brown said. “For me, it’s just coming out and playing basketball. It’s a blessing, so just coming out and being able to see something go down was good for me. But for us to continue to win and come out and beat a team that’s 4-0 was even better.”
But Brown’s offensive performance was secondary to his defense. With some help from his teammates, Brown helped limit Blake Griffin to just seven points on 2-for-13 shooting. Prior to Saturday’s game, Griffin had been averaging 33.8 points per game, which included a staggering 65.8 percent from three.
“I’ve guarded bigs before, especially my rookie year,” Brown said. “Actually when Blake was in L.A., I guarded him, too, a little bit, so I was familiar a little bit when Brad asked me. …
“It’s a lot of trust, so I appreciate that from the coaching staff. And I think we did a good team job on him tonight. He’s been averaging big numbers in the last four games, and we held him under his average. That was really big and key for us to do coming in to get the win.”
Stevens noted that Brown played well through foul trouble.
“He was great, and then on defense worked his tail off,” Stevens said. “Played with four fouls but didn’t stop playing aggressive. I thought he did a really good job on both ends.”
Still, limiting Griffin is a team effort. The Celtics sent waves of players at him and positioned themselves to keep him off balance.
“Coach came up with a great game plan, fronting him, keep getting under him, not letting him get comfortable,” Marcus Morris said. “I think we did that. JB and Gordon did a great job, and I came in and tried to stay under him, stay under him, not give him easy baskets. We did a great job as team-wise and kept him off the glass. I think we did a hell of a job of keeping Drummond off the offensive glass and keeping Blake off the glass as well.”
“Blake is a handful,” Stevens said. “And so whether they post him at the elbow, whether they post him at the block, whether he’s up at the top, he’s a handful. We’re small. Knowing we wouldn’t have Baynes tonight, we knew we’re mostly going to have to play small on him or Drummond, so we just tried to be very active around those guys. That’s got to be a team effort to guard guys like that, and Jaylen did a great job. But you’ve got to have everybody engaged, because when they don’t have the ball, you’ve got to be alert to what their next move is.”
Griffin’s tough night combined with Brown’s emergence was the latest in a series of good signs for the Celtics, who appear to be rounding into form.
“I felt good,” Brown said. “Just trying to catch a rhythm and just trying to play the game. Like, we’re all coming together as a unit, and the season’s early. But as soon as we get on the same page, we’re going to be really good.”