Brown works through rookie wall

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Brown works through rookie wall

Post by bobheckler on Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:40 pm

Celtics Notebook: Brown works through rookie wall

Celtics forward Jaylen Brown admitted to hitting a "rookie wall" late in the season. [AP Photo/Charles Krupa]

Posted Mar 24, 2017 at 8:33 PM
Updated Mar 24, 2017 at 8:35 PM

Ten days ago, before the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown was asked about whether he had encountered the so-called "rookie wall."

By Scott Souza

BOSTON – Ten days ago, before the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown was asked about whether he had encountered the so-called "rookie wall."

He admitted he had. But not in the way most think about a wall where there was a time in the longest season of his career that he hit a physical roadblock he could not scale. He talked about the rookie wall in terms of a series of challenges that you meet for the first time in your inaugural journey through the NBA grind.

"Everybody hits a rookie wall," The 20-year-old reasoned. "I think I've definitely hit it. If it's not physically, it's mentally. It's a part of the game. It's different. Everybody has to get adjusted. Nobody is superhuman."

One of those boundaries may have come that night when he got into a verbal confrontation with teammate Marcus Smart that was caught on camera late in the victory. While both Brown and Smart shrugged off the disagreement – which seemed to center around Brown breaking off a couple of offensive plays as the game got out of hand in the fourth quarter – the rookie took a step back over his next few games.

He went scoreless the next game against Brooklyn for first time since Jan 7. In the four games heading into Friday night's contest against the Phoenix Suns, he averaged just 3.5 points per game and was 0-for-8 on 3-pointers.

His minutes also took a hit as the team returned to full health. But on Friday, his attempt to leap the latest rookie wall may have gotten a boost with an unexpected start.

Avery Bradley came down with the stomach bug that has been making its way around the team for the better part of two months and spent most of Friday in the hospital. He was expected to be kept overnight Friday as a precaution and to receive fluids for dehydration.

With that seemingly putting Bradley's availability for Sunday's late-afternoon game against the Miami Heat in jeopardy, Brown could get a couple of chances to get his groove back in extended minutes.

"It's game experience," said Brown before Friday's game. "You're playing against the other best five on the court. So you've just got to go out there and show that you can compete at the highest level. It's just fun. It's a great time to learn. I think I've taken advantage of it."

After tinkering with having the 6-foot-7 Brown play power forward in small lineups in preseason, Celtics coach Brad Stevens has used his versatility to help in the other direction over the past two months as he's started at shooting guard when Bradley's been unavailable.

"I think when he and Jae (Crowder) play together (in small lineups) we'll play Jae at (power forward) on offense because he knows it," Stevens said. "He's been here a few years. It's easier to know multiple spots like that.

"(Small forwards and shooting guards) need to know the same stuff in what we're doing on both ends of the floor. I think that's made (Brown's) transition a little smoother and easier."

Brown said before Friday's start that he feels he's been through enough through 72 games this season that he doesn't consider this latest "rookie wall" anything insurmountable.

"It's just basketball," he said. "Some shots aren't going to go in. Things are going to change where it's not going to be your day. I'm just going to keep playing. I'm not worried about it whatsoever.

"I'm going to keep shooting the ball, keep playing basketball, keep being me, and things will shape up nice."

Stevens' family goes to Butler-UNC game

With the tip-off of Butler University's Sweet 16 game against North Carolina about a half hour before Friday's tip vs. the Suns, Stevens wasn't able to keep the close eye he may have liked on his former coaching home even as his family took the game in firsthand.

"I'm sure at halftime my eyes will see what the score is," he said "It's a great opportunity for them. I'm thrilled for them. My wife is there. My son is there. The Shrewsberry kids (children of assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry) went with them. They were excited to go to the Sweet 16 in Memphis."



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