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In my interview with Brian Scalabrine prior to this season, he was absolutely bullish on the Jay-Team, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. He told me that a young age, he looks at body and mentality. He stressed their mentality, stating "...both of those guys have a great head on their shoulders - not good, it's great!" Those "great heads" are still there but may need some adjustment.


Let's face it. Jaylen and Jayson were stars in the Celtics playoff run last season. With Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, two All-Stars, out of action, the Jay-Team members were the closers for Boston. They were relied upon to score, and produce generally, in clutch situations - and it worked all the way to Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals. Tatum and Brown were on top of the world.

Fast-forward to the present. Jaylen has been relegated to a bench role, and who the hell wants to be there? Nobody does in the modern NBA. How about Jayson. Don't forget that some fans and writers were wondering how Irving would respond to Tatum being the Alpha Dog on the team. Well, no worry for Kyrie yet. He is that Alpha right now, and that should go uncontested. Jayson is having a good season, but he often gets into iso-mode and forgets he plays on a team with other talented players. And Jaylen's mental funks don't help him or his team. Here is Kyrie - post-game:


Let's break it down:

"Experience, We're lacking it". Translation: We have a young, inexperienced team.

"You can't gamble and think it's going to be the winning play". Translation: Give me the damn ball in the clutch!

"It's not easy to be great." Translation: We all have to work harder.

"Being able to coast by in certain situations - On a Championship ball club, you can't get away with that." - No translation needed.

"It has to be cohesive." Translation: We have to work as a team.

"So I put it on me of just being better." Translation: As a leader, I need to get this team higher than the fifth seed in the East.

Much of Irving's dialogue was directed at the Jay-Team. They are still young, and maybe the "great heads on their shoulders" simply need slight adjustments and more experience.

But I will take Kyrie's comments on leadership a step further. We have a brilliant coach in Brad Stevens, but he has never worked with such a talented crew, and sometimes I think he is just too nice. His team members need more clearly-defined roles which are adhered to (read: cohesion). Tatum and Brown may have been the closers in the post-season last year, but Irving has proven himself in tough situations repeatedly.

In the loss to Orlando last night, Kyrie wanted the ball in his hands (via Al Horford) in the closing seconds, and Gordon Hayward chose to inbound the ball to Jayson Tatum - who missed the contested mid-range, fadeaway. As Kyrie intimated, "Give me the damn ball in the clutch!" It is hard to argue with that.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC, @CelticsSentinel and Facebook

Photo via Frank Franklin II/AP Photo

Tom Lane 1/13/2019 07:04:00 AM Edit
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