Boston Celtics

Jaylen Brown wanted Celtics to alter defensive strategy on Jokic

"I feel like I should have guarded Jokic a little bit."

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Jaylen Brown made a massive offensive impact Thursday night in Denver. But he feels he could have contributed more on the defensive end.

The Denver Nuggets edged Brown's Celtics 115-109 at Ball Arena thanks to a brilliant performance from Nikola Jokic, who finished with 32 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. Jokic made several big plays down the stretch with C's big man Kristaps Porzingis guarding him in isolation, including a bully-ball layup and an incredible alley-oop to teammate Aaron Gordon.

When asked about the difficulty of defending Jokic, Brown -- who exploded for a season-high 41 points in the loss -- suggested he should have been matched up more with the two-time NBA MVP.

"Jokic is just a monster down there,” Brown said. “We threw some different coverages at him, we guarded him one-on-one, we tried to have late help and stuff like that.

"I feel like I should have guarded Jokic a little bit, a little more. I wish I would’ve had those opportunities a little bit. I could keep him away from the basket and we could’ve took away some of those layups they got."

Brown has taken extra pride in his defense this season. He insisted before the season that he and the Celtics need to hang their hats on defense, and he's backed up that talk by often requesting to guard the opponent's best player. It's a good sign that Brown wanted to guard Jokic, and perhaps his physicality could have limited Jokic from getting into the paint, where the big man is a lethal playmaker.

Jokic is arguably the NBA's best player for a reason, however. He responded to every coverage the Celtics threw at him, from matchups with the 7-foot-2 Porzingis and the 6-foot-4 Jrue Holiday to late double-teams, and it's fair to wonder if Brown could have prevented a similar outcome.

If the Nuggets and Celtics meet again in the NBA Finals, though, don't be surprised if head coach Joe Mazzulla grants Brown's wish and gives the All-Star wing the defensive opportunity he sought Thursday night.

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