Forsberg: Turns out Jaylen was exactly what C’s needed originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
About those boos. The ones that rained down inside TD Garden during the Boston Celtics’ 2016 draft party when owner Wyc Grousbeck took the stage to announce the team had used the No. 3 pick to nab Jaylen Brown.
We know those boos weren’t for Brown. Firework-hungry Celtics fans wanted the team to make a big-splash move for a more proven commodity, not take a raw 19-year-old kid coming off a somewhat underwhelming lone college season.
Those fans wanted Jimmy Butler, the readily available All-Star wing who most were willing to splurge on if it morphed Boston into something more than the scrappy bunch of overachievers they had been early in Brad Stevens’ tenure.
We bring this up, of course, because Brown and Butler will be on opposite sides of the court Tuesday night when the Celtics and Heat tip off the 2020 Eastern Conference finals inside the Orlando bubble and, well, there’s no escaping how they’re a bit intertwined.
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But here’s why it’s particularly notable: For 23-year-old Brown, this will be his third appearance in the East finals in four NBA seasons. Not only that, it’s his third trip with three different iterations of the Celtics roster. Brown is one of the common threads in all of Boston’s recent success.
As Heat forward Kelly Olynyk noted this week, there are only two players remaining from Boston’s 2017 playoff squad (Brown and Marcus Smart). Brown was a rookie role player on the 2017 group that rode Isaiah Thomas’ magic until his hip finally gave out in the East finals.
A year later, Brown took on a much heftier role and was Boston’s leading postseason scorer as the Celtics came four minutes away from a Finals appearance despite playing without injured Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving.
Brown, now with a whopping 55 games of playoff experience already under his young belt, arrives back in the East finals this year as possibly the player most vital to Boston’s hopes of finally getting through to the Finals. If the Heat focus much of their defensive energies on slowing Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum, it’s Brown that needs to punish their lesser perimeter defenders.
What’s more, fresh off his stellar defensive efforts against Toronto’s Pascal Siakam, Brown will be tasked with stopping a couple of Miami All-Stars, including Bam Adebayo.
And he’ll also be asked to take some turns on Butler.
It would be fascinating to know how things might have played out if the Celtics had overpaid for Butler’s services and sacrificed the long-term future by moving that No. 3 pick. Would Butler have emerged as the superstar face of a championship-contending Celtics squad? And how might it have changed how Boston constructed its roster moving forward?
Boston’s window of opportunity seemingly would have been very different. Butler turned 31 on Monday and, despite his high level of play this year, it’s fair to wonder how deep into the future he can be Miami’s best player.
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At 23, Brown just keeps pushing his perceived ceiling higher and higher. After last year’s roster logjam stunted his progress, Brown came back this year ready to display a whole bunch of new weapons in his toolbox. A long-term extension of his rookie pact in place, Brown nearly earned an All-Star nod and probably will land it next year — and maybe many years to come — based on his two-way play. Boston’s future is incredibly bright with Brown at the helm alongside Tatum.
It can be even brighter if Brown can help figure out how to bottle up Butler and Adebayo in this series.
How Boston matches up with Miami will be particularly fascinating. Butler missed the final regular-season meeting between the two teams last month in the bubble. Before that, Brown had logged a team-high 6 minutes, 37 seconds of matchup time over two games against Butler. He allowed 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting with a turnover in that span.
Both Tatum and Smart logged long shifts against Butler despite playing against him only one time each during the regular season. Given the way Smart was able to smother Kyle Lowry last round — and given some “Not about that life” history between the two players from the 2017 Celtics-Bulls playoffs — we might see a healthy dose of Smart on Butler.
The key for Brown or whoever draws Butler will be trying to avoid fouling. Butler routinely puts on a masterclass in getting to the free-throw line. Call him James Harden East with a .693 free-throw rate this season. That number, which reflects the number of free throws attempted per field goal attempt, has spiked to a preposterous .865 in the playoffs.
Butler has taken 96 free throws and 111 field goals through nine games. For the sake of comparison, Harden was at .509 free-throw rate with 116 free throws compared to 228 field goal attempts.
Stevens has reminded his team to avoid fouling shooters in the air. That’s easier said than done with the way Butler forces the issue.
Adebayo isn’t much easier to defend. Much like Siakam, Brown will be giving up size. He’ll have to match Adebayo’s strength and try to push him away from the basket, especially important because of Adebayo’s explosiveness and ability to simply produce dunks if he’s near the hoop.
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“Being versatile is something that I’ve always prided myself on,” said Brown. “And it’s something that’s probably the reason why I think we’re so good as a team, because we’re so versatile. So, being able to guard multiple guys, as well as guys like Siakam or, or Bam or Jimmy, whoever, it’s gonna take for a group team effort.”
If Brown and Co. can limit Butler’s free throws and take away those easy Adebayo dunks, then it’s going to put a tremendous amount of pressure on Miami’s perimeter shooters to keep knocking down 3-pointers to fuel the Heat offense. Boston has historically been one of the best 3-point defenses in the NBA the past decade, but the Heat have shot 38 percent as a team while getting up a high number of triples this postseason.
Brown’s efforts might have floated a bit under the radar in Round 2. He played a big part in Siakam’s struggles, all while scoring 20+ points per game. Sometimes Brown’s influence is overshadowed by Tatum’s loud stat lines or some of the more obvious defensive heroics produced by Smart.
But Brown is vital to Boston’s success. He has been throughout his NBA career. It’s why the Celtics are playing in another Eastern Conference finals. Ironically, all those antsy Boston fans on draft night 2016 didn’t realize they were getting exactly the player that would deliver them where they wanted to go.
But Celtics fans are antsy again. They want the team to get over the hump again. And there will be no shortage of cheers for Brown if he can deliver this team to the championship stage.
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Notre Dame falls to No. 8 in this week’s Amway Coaches Poll Powered by USA TODAY. Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia come in the top 5. North Carolina checks in as Notre Dame’s highest-ranked opponent at No. 18 while Pitt comes in next at No. 27
Dodgers add Gore for NL wild card; Anderson out for Brewers
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Terrance Gore is on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ roster for the NL wild-card series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
The speedy outfielder played in two of the Dodgers’ first six games this season and was designated for assignment on July 30. He was assigned outright to the team’s alternate training site after clearing waivers.
This will be Gore’s fourth postseason appearance following time with the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 and 2015 World Series and with the Chicago Cubs in the 2018 NL wild card game. The majority of his games have been as a pinch runner.
The will carry 13 pitchers and 15 position players.
Left off the Los Angeles roster were relievers Dylan Floro and Alex Wood, and second baseman Gavin Lux.
Milwaukee left pitchers Brett Anderson and Devin Williams off its roster.
Anderson left his last start early with a blister on his left index finger. His absence makes Milwaukee’s starter in a potential Game 3 uncertain.
Williams emerged as one of baseball’s top relievers this season and is a candidate for Rookie of the Year.
Williams, who last pitched last Friday, went 4-1 with a 0.33 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 27 innings. He gave up eight hits and one earned run all season while forming a dynamic duo with closer Josh Hander at the back end of Milwaukee’s bullpen.
Making the roster of 12 pitchers and 16 position players are designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach and outfielder Ben Gamel. Their status had been uncertain due to quadriceps injuries.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Chiefs potentially down 2 more defensive starters vs. Pats
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs learned shortly before kickoff last week that offensive lineman Andrew Wylie had been taken to the hospital for a suspected case of appendicitis, leaving them even more short-handed for a high-profile Monday night matchup with the Baltimore Ravens.
Mike Remmers stepped into the lineup and the Chiefs’ sizzling offense never missed a beat.
Every team goes through injuries during the season – some have more than others, some have more crucial injuries than others. But in just three games this season, the reigning Super Bowl champions already have shown an uncanny ability to overcome them, whether it’s an offensive lineman or one of the many pieces missing from their secondary.
”You know, football, things happen all the time,” said Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill, who sustained a season-ending knee injury a year ago. ”Guys get hurt. Guys get in trouble. We have that next-guy-up mentality. Coaches are always talking about how everyone is a starter on our defense because you never know when your time is going to come.”
The latest injuries are potentially big blows to the Kansas City defense ahead of yet another marquee matchup against the New England Patriots on Sunday. Rookie cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, who already has a pair of interceptions, had surgery for the collarbone he broke in Baltimore and will miss the game, while defensive tackle Chris Jones – who leads the AFC with 3 1/2 sacks – could be a game-time decision because of a lingering groin injury.
The defensive backfield in particular has shown plenty of resilience this season.
One of the starters, Bashaud Breeland, will be wrapping up his four-game suspension on Sunday for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse. The other, Charvarius Ward, returned last week with a cast on his hand from a fracture that had kept him out the previous week. And a backup, Antonio Hamilton, has dealt with a tweaked hamstring.
That has left Rashad Fenton, a sixth-round pick last year, and Bopete Keyes, a seventh-rounder this year, as the only truly healthy cornerbacks on the roster. They do have Chris Lammons, Rodney Clemons and Lavert Hill on the practice squad.
”The guys have been diligent with it, the guys that have been backup players and they’re now playing,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. ”So easy for a relief pitcher to back up and say, ‘Oh, we’ll be fine.’ But these guys have jumped into it, and I think the coaches have done a good job rotating guys back there, trying to get everybody in.”
All those various combinations have paid off. Last week, the Chiefs held Lamar Jackson to just 15 of 28 passing for 97 yards, turning the potent Baltimore offense into a one-dimensional run-only attack. And through their first three games, the Chiefs rank fourth in the league against the pass.
”I think when guys go down, we’ve been trained for those situations,” Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher said. ”It’s not the first time. Something happens before the game, it doesn’t matter. When someone goes down we don’t expect a drop off.”
NOTES: Wylie planned to practice Wednesday, Reid said, but it’s unclear whether he will play this weekend. … QB Patrick Mahomes, who announced that his fiance is pregnant on Tuesday, called the idea of fatherhood ”extremely exciting. ”Being able to grow up and have all these drams of having a family and playing in the NFL, and to have that stuff happen and come to truth, is really exciting,” he said. … The Chiefs are not changing anything with regard to their COVID-19 protocol after an outbreak shut down the Tennessee facility this week. But the news did serve as a reminder to be diligent about wearing a face mask and social distancing. ”It’s a pandemic,” Reid said. ”Things can happen.”
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL
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