Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
The Boston Celtics defeated the Phoenix Suns 117-103 on Sunday, as Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum led a resurgent charge following Friday’s disappointing outing against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Here are five things we learned.
1. Jaylen Brown has been Boston’s best player in Orlando.
On Friday, Brown was Boston’s only star who showed any real signs of life. On Sunday, Brown had some help, but he was even better — 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting, which included 3-for-6 from deep and 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. Brown was aggressive going to the basket, and his shot was dialed in immediately.
This morning’s dump includes some news from yesterday because we’re still in a rather slow period–at least as far as real news is concerned. There’s plenty of human interest, which will come up later.
So first off, the C’s looked much sharper on Sunday. I’m really not surprised that Jaylen has adapted the best to these unusual circumstances. Mental flexibility is one of his assets, and he seems able to accept the game as he finds it. Playing in front of giant video boards instead of fans? Practicing in a hotel ballroom? Living dormitory style at a Disney resort?
Odd? Yes. Impossible to adjust to? No.
And, toward that end, I think Jaylen’s just ahead of the curve–eventually, everybody will adapt to the way the game’s being played here. These guys are professionals and this is what they do for a living.
Sunday also marked Kemba Walker’s return to action:
The C’s All-Star guard has been taking it easy in practice as he’s been dealing with a bothersome left knee, but he looked like himself on Sunday.
Walker didn’t hesitate to attack the basket right away in Boston’s 117-103 victory. Although he was limited to nine minutes of action, Walker contributed six points and most importantly looked healthy when he was on the court.
“[Walker] was great, yeah. Nine to 10 minutes was kind of the time we had for him to play,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after the scrimmage. “Like we said, he’s going to be on a minutes restriction when we start playing the seeding games.
The Kemba Walker situation might well be an overabundance of caution. But I, for one, am fine with that. Given the C’s injury history, and the potential for Kemba Walker to be a valuable contributor for the team not just in this contract but in his next as well, I’ll happily settle for “load management”, even during the seeding games.
With home-court advantage being non-existent, and Boston currently sitting in the #3 seed, all they need to do is tread water until the playoffs start; that will be sufficient to assure them they won’t have to face Milwaukee until the third round. But at the same time, there’s a strong likelihood that their second and third round playoff opponents will be Toronto and Milwaukee and that it doesn’t much matter in which order they play them.
Romeo Langford is another guy who looked pretty good on Sunday:
Romeo Langford continued to kick up some dust by doing a little bit of everything, with nine points in 12 minutes, including a pair of slick finishes at the rim. It’s easy to forget that he was the highest-drafted member of this season’s rookie class (14th pick) due to a spate of injuries. But he’s a smooth scorer who has been better than advertised defensively. Whether this nascent skills translate into playoff minutes remains to be seen.
I like where Romeo’s headed. I see him as being a sort of offensive ‘yin’ to Marcus Smart’s ‘yang’–Smart is already a jack-of-all-trades on the court, with an emphasis on defense, and if Langford can develop into a similar Swiss-Army-knife type player, but with an emphasis on offense, that’s going to be a huge asset for the C’s bench.
The ideal bench is going to have one or two specialists–think Tony Allen and Eddie House on defense and offense respectively. But it is equally important to have generalists, because if you’ve got a guy who can play with any four of your starters without disrupting their games, you have a whole new realm of lineup flexibility.
Smart and Langford have rather similar builds–Langford’s a little bit taller and a little bit lighter–but they’re both in that size sweet spot that makes them potentially useful all over the court. Langford’s responsibility now is expanding his game, something that he’s shown a willingness to do.
Page 2: Where Tatum is still getting his bedtime stories in
This is, honestly, too cute.
Finally: Jaylen Brown talks about protests
Jaylen Brown is an interesting guy. And while it may be well argued that the BLM movement has been co-opted and commercialized (make no mistake, the NBA would not have those words on the court if they felt that there would be negative consequences financially), there are genuinely sincere people involved as well, and Brown seems to be one of them.