Jaylen Brown looks to return to action Thursday as the Boston Celtics take on the Knicks at TD Garden. Should he come off the bench or start?
Brown exited the November 24 game against the Mavericks late in the fourth quarter after attempting to contest a lay up which resulted in him landing hard on his lower back.
Brown missed three games with what was described as a back bruise but appears to be ready to go for Thursday’s rematch with the Knicks.
In his absence, the Celtics have won three straight and appear to be functioning at a higher level. Whether this has any correlation with Brown’s absence remains to be seen, but one thing is clear, Brad Stevens’ new starting lineup appears to be outperforming the old one.
Lately, Stevens has been going with a lineup of Irving, Smart, Tatum, Morris and Horford, essentially sending Gordon Hayward to the bench for Smart and replacing the injured Jaylen Brown with Marcus Morris.
Whether Jaylen Brown will be re-inserted into the starting lineup against the Knicks and beyond, is still unknown and according to Scott Souza via Twitter, Brad Stevens won’t reveal the starting lineup until game day.
As far as how the Celtics should proceed when Brown returns, it might be a mistake to mess with the flow of this starting five right now. It is worth continuing to see how they perform but if any changes are to be made, re-inserting Hayward into the starting lineup might make more sense than starting Jaylen Brown.
Brown has had his struggles this season and that is showcased by his league ranking in Real Plus-Minus (RPM). According to ESPN.com, RPM is described as “Player’s estimated on-court impact on team performance, measured in net point differential per 100 offensive and defensive possessions. RPM takes into account teammates, opponents and additional factors.”
In this category Jaylen Brown is ranked 415th out of 442 players. For reference Jayson Tatum is ranked 74th, Hayward is ranked 62nd and Irving is ranked sixth.
Gordon Hayward is continuing to show promise and improvement in his game especially with an impressive 30 point, nine rebound and eight assist night in the Celtics last game against Minnesota.
Right now, the Celtics might benefit most from Brown coming off the bench and getting a chance to go against other team’s second units. This could give the Celtic’s second unit a spark and Brown could get his game back on track and gain some confidence especially coming off the injury.
With a roster like this, finding the right lineups and combinations can be a challenge and Brown knows that it’s all about what’s best for the team.
He has acknowledged the possibility of being bumped from the starting five after he returns and has no problem filling whatever role is required of him. Via Nicole Yang of Boston.com:
“Whatever needs to be done to figure it out,” he said. “Everybody has talent, everybody has ability, but, obviously, we have to make something work here. We don’t want to be looking down the line and trying to figure out what if or woulda, coulda, whatever, so whatever it is that we can make it work now, I’m totally happy with that.”
Kyrie Irving was the first Celtics player to get his game together after a sluggish start.…