Celtics

Karalis: Brad Stevens needs to keep Jaylen Brown involved offensively

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Jaylen Brown is causing problems with the Boston Celtics. 

He’s too good. 

It’s a nice problem to have, but Brown’s ascension has actually created a bit of an issue that was highlighted on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Brown went into the half having hit seven of nine shots for 16 points in a duel with Paul George. One game back from sitting to rest his sore left knee, Brown was back to his old tricks. But after the half, Brown was just 1-for-5 from the field with no shots in the fourth quarter. 

Zero. 

Jaylen Brown is too good to not get any shots down the stretch of a tight game, but he’s also too good to get any plays run for him. 

It is a bit of a catch-22 for the Celtics, who both need to run plays for Brown but who also need him to be a floor spacer in a lot of situations, which he was on a key fourth-quarter layup by Jayson Tatum.

His occupation of Nic Batum opened up the lane for Tatum. On this third-quarter play, Brown spent the whole possession in the corner. 

Okay, that’s going to happen from time to time no matter what the offense looks like. Tatum has his “stand in the corner” moments too. Floor spacing in today’s NBA is more important than ever. And Brown’s moments in that role have certainly diminished. 

Last season, 2.7% of his field-goal attempts were corner 3-pointers, and he was an elite 48.4% shooter. This season, 1.3% of his attempts are coming from the corners, where he’s a ho-hum 34.7%. He’s still taking the same percentage of 3-pointers, about 12% of his overall shots, but that 1.4% difference is now coming from above the break 3-pointers. 

Regardless of where he is on the floor, teams see him as a dangerous 3-point shooter and they need to stick to him, which is why the Celtics will rely on him to be in that role from time to time, but it still causes the conundrum the Celtics faced in the third quarter Tuesday night. 

How do the Celtics manage to keep feeding the hot hand of one All-Star, try to get a cold All-Star going, all while last year’s All-Star is heating up?