Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Brad Stevens endorses Jaylen Brown for All-NBA, updates his injury status

The Celtics are heading to the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the East after finishing 57-25 in the regular season.

Brad Stevens held an impromptu conference with the media Sunday afternoon prior to the C's 120-114 victory in their finale, saying the reason being he would not be made available once the postseason begins -- which is just days away.

The Celtics president of basketball operations touched upon several topics during his 12-plus minute presser, including endorsing Jaylen Brown for an All-NBA Team.
"I think both Jayson and Jaylen should be on the All-NBA team," Stevens said when asked about Brown. "I think, again, what they've done throughout the course of this year, and you asked about Jaylen so I'll talk about Jaylen in particular, he's also really played his best basketball, I think, in the last couple of months, and he was an obvious All-Star right out of the gate. So it tells you where he's been."
Coming off a career year, Brown finished with averages of 26.6 points on 49.1% from the field (20.6 overall shot attempts) and 33.5% (7.3 attempts) from deep, to go along with 6.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.1 steals in 67 games played.
"I think he's doing a great job of obviously scoring the ball, scoring when we need it, but we asked him to do a lot defensively," Stevens continued. "And we asked him, along with Jayson, to read a lot of pretty intense coverages with extra bodies flying at them, with extra bodies shifted over to them. We're unique because we have those two guys, who are just amazing young players, and they really accentuate our role players, but then we've got a group of role players that really accentuate them. And so I think that they deserve to be on that team, and Jaylen in particular, I thought has really had a great run here."
Brown, who missed the final two games of the regular season with a finger laceration on his right shooting hand after cutting it when picking up a broken glass vase last week, is eligible for a contract extension this summer worth the supermax (five-year, $290 million) if named to any of this year's three All-NBA teams.

Of course, Stevens also noted that Brown should return to practice at some point this week ahead of Game 1 Saturday afternoon when the first round tips off at TD Garden against either the Atlanta Hawks or Miami Heat in a best-of-7 series.
"I think he'll be practicing by the middle-to-the-end of the week and be fine," Stevens said. "So, we're okay there."
Despite many nagging injuries throughout the season, the Celtics interim turned head coach Joe Mazzulla went through 26 different starting lineups -- mostly due to load management such as preserving big man Robert Williams, who sat out a total of 47 games.
"Missing a bunch of games at the start of the year was not ideal," Stevens said of the veteran. "It did force us to morph into a team that can do other things and give us a different way of playing, so there was some advantage to that, and then he's come back and played well, and I'm really encouraged that he played the minutes he played over the last couple of games."
Jayson Tatum has also been battling lingering aliments, according to Stevens and among them was a sore left wrist and a hip contusion. Still, the All-Star was able to average 30.1 points per contest (74 games), while netting 2,225 points to lead the NBA in total points scored. Tatum becomes the first player in Celtics history to average 30-plus points for a season.

Meanwhile, Derrick White was the only member on the C's current roster to play all 82 games this year -- the first since Isaiah Thomas during the 2015-16 campaign -- and one of only 10 in the league to accomplish that feat this season.
"I think it's important and I think he takes pride in that," coach Mazzulla said in Sunday's postgame comments. "A key to that is our depth. That's helped. I think because we have such a balanced roster, it takes a little bit off of everybody. At the same time, he loves playing basketball. Really enjoys it and it's cool to see. So I'm happy for him."
While the Celtics are coming off their most wins since the 2008-09 season (62), they'll look to make another NBA Finals run which could conclude with the raising of the elusive 18th championship banner come June.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of The Associated Press

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