Chris Forsberg

Crash 2.0? How Oshae Brissett is carving out his role in Boston

The energetic wing is already differentiating himself with his hustle.

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As far as introductions go, it was perfect.

Well, not perfect, because Oshae Brissett’s highlight-reel put-back dunk at the end of Boston’s preseason opener against the Philadelphia 76ers in early October got erased by a very questionable offensive foul call. One that still irks his Celtics teammates, who stumbled onto the court in delirium after the jaw-dropping dunk.

But the sequence sure set the table for the Brissett Experience.

Here’s the quick recap: Dalano Banton missed a 3-pointer from the right corner and the ball shot high off the side rim. Brissett, as would soon become his calling card, was crashing hard from the opposite side of the floor. Derrick White, standing 94 feet away on the Boston bench, could see what was about to happen and raised his arms out in front of him as if bracing for impact.

That’s when Brissett soared over the back of Philadelphia’s David Duke Jr. and, with one hand, flushed the ball and sent Duke Jr. stumbling towards the first row of seats on the baseline.

A referee, who clearly hates fun, immediately whistled Brissett for a foul, much to the chagrin of everyone inside TD Garden. Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla thought enough of the sequence that he immediately called timeout and asked for a review. In a preseason game. The call stood.

But if you were wondering what Brissett might bring to the table after being one of Boston’s earliest summer additions, that brief sequence helped answer your query.

It’s only a 24-minute regular-season sample, but the Celtics have grabbed 46.9 percent of available offensive rebounds during Brissett’s floor time. That’s 14.5 percent higher than Boston’s already absurd early season mark of 32.4 percent. For context, Boston finished 27th in the NBA last season while collecting just 25.5 percent of available offensive rebounds.

Brissett knew that hustle plays could differentiate himself in Boston.

“As soon as I found out I was going to be here, my mind completely flipped just to that: What can I do to help the team?” said Brissett. “With that role, it's strictly doing all those little things, being that energy guy, and being an all-around player. Wherever Coach wants to put me, I feel like I'm confident enough right now in myself that I could go out there and do that, no matter what it is.”

It’s hard to take your eyes off Brissett when he’s on the floor and shots go up. He often comes flying out of the corner looking for a chance to replay that preseason sequence. Mazzulla gushed after Boston’s home opener about how Brissett “changed the game” with his energy and offensive rebounding against the Miami Heat.

Brissett has the somewhat unenviable task of trying to find minutes behind a pair of All-NBA wings in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. He takes a pragmatic approach.

“Honestly, I’m just glad I don’t have to guard them anymore," Brissett said.

And on a team overflowing with offensive talent, Brissett has pledged to embrace rolling up his sleeves and doing the dirty work.

The easy Boston comp here is a somewhat less-reckless Aaron Nesmith. Playfully nicknamed “Crash” for his knack for launching himself into just about anything — teammates, scorer’s tables, courtside fans — in pursuit of the ball, Nesmith was raw but energetic in his two seasons in Boston.

Ironically, Nesmith and Brissett were teammates in Indiana last season after the Celtics dealt Nesmith there as part of the Malcolm Brogdon acquisition. Nesmith started 60 of his 73 appearances last season while Brissett settled for a reserve role.

The Pacers visit TD Garden on Wednesday night. Both Brissett and Nesmith will have a little extra motivation against their former teams.

This reporter bumped into Nesmith at NBA Summer League in July; asked for a scouting report on Brissett, Nesmith immediately gushed about his ability to make hustle plays. Nesmith suggested that Brissett would quickly win over Boston fans.

It felt a bit like the meme of two Spidermen pointing at each other.

“For sure, Aaron showed me exactly how it was and that earned him that spot [in Indiana],” said Brissett. “I’m happy to [embrace energy plays]. I’m willing and ready to do the same things.”

Maybe Brissett is Crash 2.0, not as much for the raw nature of his game but certainly for his desire to crash the glass and create second-chance opportunities.

Brissett just wants to make energy plays each time he’s on the court. And that much has been obvious since that first preseason game.

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