Jaylen Brown’s injury will help the Boston Celtics in the long run

Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Don’t look now, but the Boston Celtics are about to make a run. The run we all not only knew they could, but fully expected them to make after their shaky start to the 2021-22 NBA season.

Since falling to 2-5 in their first season under their rookie head coach, Ime Udoka, and looking downright disinterested in giving any effort for long stretches, the C’s have won seven of their last 10 games to boost their record to 9-8. Over that stretch, the team’s defense has kicked into high gear, and the offense has done enough to get the job done.

What might be more remarkable, however, is that the C’s have been without Jaylen Brown for their last eight games as hit sits out with a hamstring injury. When Brown has been on the court, he has been Boston’s best player this season, averaging 25.6 points in the eight games he has managed to suit up for.

How have the Boston Celtics managed to seemingly turn their season around without Brown? In the simplest form, and in a phrase that all New Englanders will understand, the rest of the roster has adopted a Do Your Job (and then some) mentality, which will serve the team well even once Brown returns.

The Boston Celtics secondary players have been stepping up in Brown’s absence

The first way that the Celtics have survived without Brown is with some incredible play from members of their second unit. And nobody exemplifies this better than offseason pickup Dennis Schroder.

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Earlier this season, after a string of decent play, some were clamoring for the German point guard to get a shot at starting. Since he has gotten that chance, Schroder’s play has been nothing short of sensational. In his 11 starts, he’s averaging 21.1 points. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Schroder has saved the Celtics with his play so far.

Another role player who has really stepped up is Grant Williams. Coming into the season, the third year man was a true “Jack of all trades, master of none”. Up to this point, that reputation has taken a huge hit.

Previously a streaky (at best) shooter, Williams has been on fire this year from three-point land. He’s currently downing an amazing 43% of his threes, and he’s been particularly hot from the corners. In his six starts, Williams has actually been even hotter than his overall numbers – 11.5 points and 5 rebounds on 51.6 percent from three. That’s scorching.

On a team where fellow young players like Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard were expected to fill 3-and-D roles, Williams’ emergence has made them superfluous.

Jayson Tatum finally producing for the Boston Celtics

But the biggest reason that the Boston Celtics have turned it around in Brown’s absence is the return to All-NBA form for Jayson Tatum. There’s denying that the beginning of the year for Tatum was not pretty.

Over the first nine games of the year, before Brown went out with his hamstring injury, Tatum was still scoring. 22.7 points per game, which is a career year for most players. Inflating those numbers, of course, was his 41-point outburst against the Charlotte Hornets. Taking that into account, his start looks even worse.

The biggest issue is that it was taking Tatum 22 shots per game to get those 22 points, as his percentages were truly terrible. 37 percent from the field and only 27 percent from three. Those are Marcus Smart numbers, not what should be expected from an All-NBA superstar like Tatum.

Starting with their game against the Dallas Mavericks, however, Tatum has taken his game not only to where it should be, but to a whole new level. He’s poured in 28.6 points and pulled down 9.1 rebounds, while his shooting percentages have soared to 41 percent from three and 45 percent from the field overall.

This is the Jayson Tatum that the Boston Celtics needed to show up once Brown went down. Thanks to him, as well as the rest of the team, the C’s have managed to not only survive, but thrive in the absence of their star wing.

Now the key becomes keeping it up once he does return. The defense shouldn’t be an issue as Brown hangs his hat on that end. But over the past three years, we’ve seen countless examples of how this team has struggled to get both Tatum and Brown going at the same time.

Boston Celtics: There’s still time to turnaround the season after a poor start. dark. Next

That’s why this injury may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the Boston Celtics. Not only did it force Tatum to get going, but secondary players such as Schroder and Williams as well. Add to that the steady veteran presence of Al Horford and the heart of Marcus Smart, and this group has the look of a team about to go on a run.