Jaylen Brown says Celtics ‘gotta be ready to fight’ down the stretch


“Teams are being a little bit more physical and they think that that’s the ticket to getting us out of our comfort zone.”

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) drives to the basket against Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Saturday, March 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

After clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and posting a 58-16 league-best record, the Celtics are still forced to find new ways to win down the stretch. 

On the heels of back-to-back losses against the Hawks, Boston course-corrected with a 104-92 win over the Pelicans Saturday night. After late-game woes in Atlanta sparked doubt in the Celtics’ ability to close out games ahead of the postseason, however, Jaylen Brown attributed some of the team’s struggles to officiating changes. 

“Teams are being a little bit more physical and they think that that’s the ticket to getting us out of our comfort zone,” Brown said, per CLNS. “We’re adjusting to how the game is being called. The whistle is a little different out of nowhere.”

Brown, tasked with defending Zion Williamson, held the Pelicans star to 4-for-11 with four turnovers in the final 36 minutes of Saturday’s game. Despite an excellent defensive showing, he expressed that the team is adapting to playing through more contact on offense. 

“We gotta be ready to fight,” Brown said. “It’s clear across the league that they’re not calling as many fouls, it’s a little bit more physical, and stuff like that. Some of the stuff that we were getting in early on, we’re not going to get now. And that’s fine, but it’s an adjustment.”

Brown had 17 points, six assists, and seven rebounds Saturday night, but displayed noticeable discomfort in his finger and knee during the game. 

With eight games remaining in the regular season, heightened levels of physicality presents the Celtics with challenges as they try to remain healthy before the playoffs. 

Boston caps off their six-game road trip in Charlotte Monday night against the Hornets at 7 p.m.

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