BOSTON – After the Boston Celtics dropped Game 2 Tuesday night and fell behind the Bulls 2-0 in their first-round series, coach Brad Stevens indicated that he might make some rotational changes moving forward in order to potentially create a spark.
“I think you have to consider it,” Stevens said the following day via conference call. “Especially after the first two games have gone.”
Stevens noted that he liked the energy that Tyler Zeller and Terry Rozier brought off the bench Tuesday night, so those two players could possibly see an increase in minutes during Friday’s Game 3.
Another player who could step in and give Boston a boost is rookie Jaylen Brown.
The 20-year-old had a solid debut season, averaging 6.6 points and 2.8 rebounds per game, while playing 17.2 minutes per game. His role was diminished during Games 1 and 2, however, as he scored a total of seven points during 20 minutes of play.
Brown is chomping at the bit to earn more of a role moving forward, judging by the excitement he displayed this past weekend before entering his first postseason experience.
“I know I’m ready,” said Brown. “I’m ready to go out and show that I’m ready to play in an atmosphere like this; that a rookie can hang out there with those guys. I’m ready to show the coaching staff, everybody that I’m ready to play.”
Brown saw some early action during Game 2 as he was subbed in for Amir Johnson just 3:38 into the game. His stint was short-lived, however, as Stevens removed him from the court less than three minutes later after missing consecutive 3-point attempts.
Brown did not reenter the game until the 6:01 mark in the fourth quarter and his play improved from there.
“He was struggling, I thought, in that (first) stint,” Stevens reflected after the game. “He played a little bit better in the last six minutes, which was good. Hopefully he can get something going from that.”
Stevens added, “Not every stint is going to go great, and we believe in Jaylen when his number is called.”
Calling Brown’s number would give Boston another option – besides Isaiah Thomas – that can drive to the basket and draw fouls.
On the other end, Brown could be a good option to guard Jimmy Butler, who has averaged 26.0 PPG during the series. The rookie forward has gained a lot of confidence in his defense since joining the Celtics, and his versatility could be burdensome on Butler.
“I knew defense, when I got here, that was going to be the only way I was going to get on the floor,” said Brown. “I had to pick that up quick – that, or sit on the bench. It’s a sink or swim mentality. So I gradually got better and better at it.”
Brown also has an advantage going up against Butler, being that he has some intel on the All-Star guard. The pair worked out together extensively this past summer, and Brown constantly picked Butler’s brain through the process.
“Going up against Jimmy, I gotta be smart; no stupid fouls. Just keep your hands back because they’re good at pump-faking and drawing fouls – him and (Dwyane) Wade. Just stay in front, and make [Butler] earn whatever he gets.”
With the Celtics struggling during the early goings of this series, Brown could be a great option to help raise energy on both sides of the ball. If the eager rookie does see an increased role moving forward, he will be ready to put everything he’s got on the floor in an effort to spark a series turnaround.