Monday, November 13, 2023

Kristaps Porzingis reflects on growing chemistry with Jaylen Brown following win over Raptors

It has only been nine games into the season and Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis seems pretty comfortable in Boston thus far.

The veteran big man has fit in nicely with his two All-Star teammates Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as the team's third scoring option at 19.6 points and over six rebounds per contest. While still only a small sample size, the Celtics at 7-2 are top-5 in the league when comes to both offense and defense.

On Saturday, Porzinigis finished with 21 points in the team's 117-94 win over the Toronto Raptors -- a bounce back performance from his nine points scored against the Brooklyn Nets -- while playing a huge role in Brown and Tatum combining for 56 points in the victory on a second night of a back-to-back.

For Porzingis it doesn't matter if he gets 14 shot attempts like he did against the Raptors or just four when it came to playing the Nets, as long as it results in a win due to the talent he's surrounded with.
"As long as we're playing the right way, it doesn't matter if I get those shots or I don't," Porzingis said. "I enjoy just drawing attention. If I'm setting a good screen for my teammate, rolling and drawing more attention and somebody's getting an open three, I love that. I love those kinds of things."
However, the Celtics made sure to get Porzingis involved early against the Raptors and by the third quarter a 19-2 run essentially put the game out of reach and it had a lot to do with the two-man play of the seven footer and Brown throughout the night.

Whether it was Porzingis setting screens to create a mismatch and or spacing, that also included backdoor cuts to Brown that Toronto couldn't recover from -- especially once trailing by 24 which led to 30- point deficit in the final frame -- it seems like they have been playing together for years.

According to Porzingis, the two-man game between him and Brown was more so freestyling than anything else, while their chemistry on the floor as teammates continues to grow.
"We're still in the beginning stages because I think our chemistry, it's just going to get so much better," Porzingis said with a smile. "Like, I'm telling you, you're just going to see, like it's going to get a lot better. But I love playing with him. He creates a lot of the situations, he draws a lot of attention and it's just opened things up for myself, for everyone else."
Joe Mazzulla has been beyond pleased with the impact that Porzingis has made on both ends of the floor. The Celtics head coach believes he's a major reason for the early success and why the team overall looks different.
"His open mindedness towards being coached has way far exceeded my expectations and his ability to just, 'What can I do to make our team get better?'" Mazzulla said in his postgame comments. "He's such a unique player because he has the ability to force 2-on-1s in different situations. Those screens that he was setting were getting JT and JB and our guys downhill, and that forced them to veer, and that forced them to bring their rim protection away, which allowed us to get 60 points in the paint.

"So there's an effect that goes on when guys start doing all those little things, and he's very open minded to being coached in that and we’re grateful for that all our guys."
The Celtics will wrap up their three-game mini homestand Monday night when they host the New York Knicks at TD Garden. 

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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