Monday, February 26, 2024

Jaylen Brown on Celtics looking at standings: 'None of that stuff really matters'

The Celtics have won a season-high eight straight following their 116-102 victory over the New York Knicks Saturday night.

Boston is a league-best 45-12, with a 7.5-game lead over the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference and five games ahead for the best record overall in the association.

But don't think the C's are concerned at all with watching the standings, at least according to Jaylen Brown -- who says he and his teammates haven't been paying much attention to where other teams are, as it doesn't have much barring on the postseason outside of homecourt advantage.
"When it comes down to the playoffs, none of that stuff really matters," Brown said his postgame comments of the Celtics in the standings. "I feel like it's going to be about matchups, it's going to be about playing hard. Obviously, home court matters, so that is key, but when you get into the thick of it, you got to win basketball games, regardless of what your seed is.
"If anything, it puts more pressure on you. But I think we're an experienced team. We've been in these situations before, and I think we're ready."
Brown finished with a team-high 30 points (20 of which came in the first half), taking full advantage of mismatches against the Knicks -- hitting 13-of-24 from the field. Despite the Celtics' defense clamping down on New York in the second half, as the home team scored only 44 points on 38.5% shooting from the floor, Brown believes there could have been better defense played from the start.
"I think we can be even better on defense," Brown said. "I think we gave up a lot of points tonight. They should have had around 88 [points]. That was just some mistakes that we made that, in the playoffs and stuff like that, you don't want to make. Teams get on runs, so we can guard a lot better than we did tonight."
With the playoffs two months away and the Celtics continuing to separate in the standings, veteran Al Horford echoed Brown's sentiment and also how coach Joe Mazzulla strives for improvements despite the team's current record.
"I can just speak to we're continuing to play good basketball," Horford told reporters. "We're really trying to play the right way. I feel like Joe is really challenging us to continue to get better. This is the stretch of the season where we can really take it to another level, and that's what we're trying to do."
While the Celtics own the league's best offensive rating at 121.2 and the third-best defensive rating at 110.7, Horford was asked what a better version of the team would look like.
"That's a really good question," Horford responded, "but I feel like we're not where we need to be yet, and that's a good thing."
The Celtics will look to stretch their win streak to nine when they return home to TD Garden and host the Philadelphia 76ers (33-24) on Tuesday night. TNT has the tip-off at 7:30 pm ET. 

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of The Associated Press

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