Boston Celtics

Celtics owner highlights biggest factor driving team's early success

"He's playing hands-down the best basketball of his life."

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The Boston Celtics added two All-Star-caliber players this offseason. But if you ask team owner Wyc Grousbeck, two players already on the roster have led the way in Boston's hot start.

Grousbeck was asked Tuesday on WEEI's The Greg Hill Show if he could point to one difference between this season's Celtics and last season's squad that's helped the C's jump out to an NBA-leading 26-6 record. Grousbeck's response centered on the homegrown duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown -- and particularly on the play of Brown.

"The first names that came to mind when you said what's driving (our success), I really did think of Jaylen and Jayson," Grousbeck said. "I mean, look at Jaylen. In the offseason he signed a big contract, to say the least, and that's a lot of pressure. It's a great situation for someone to be in, but it's also (a lot of pressure). He's come back and he's playing hands-down the best basketball of his life.

"I mean, he's already an All-Star. And so, he's taken that and put it into team play. He wants to win. He knows the goal, he buys in completely to the goal. I'm not trying to speak for him, but it's obvious."

Tatum and Brown both earned All-NBA nods last season while enjoying plenty of individual success. But after falling short in the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals, the Jays made a point to put winning first and put team goals ahead of individual ones.

The early results have been very positive; Brown has made great strides as a playmaker, averaging a career-high 3.7 assists per game while shooting an efficient 48.9 percent from the floor. Tatum, meanwhile, is on pace for his best shooting season since his rookie year (47.4 percent) while handing out 4.4 assists per game.

Both players' scoring averages have dipped compared to last season with Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday in the fold, but Boston is playing a better brand of basketball thanks to the Jays' team-first approach.

"(Jaylen) and Jayson are leading this team to a cohesive, highly-rated offense, highly-rated defense, very connected," Grousbeck added. "I'd put it first and foremost with Jayson and Jaylen, that they both stepped up and said they are willing to do what's necessary to try to keep piling up the wins."

Prioritizing winning over personal goals is easier said than done. Just look at the 2018-19 Celtics, who had a glut of talent led by Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward but were bounced in the second round of the playoffs.

"In my eyes it was just, we all had too many agendas, and the agenda to win the whole thing was not the main one," Hayward admitted Monday on the Podcast P with Paul George podcast.

The 2023-24 Celtics still have a long way to go to reach their ultimate goal, but it appears Tatum and Brown are setting the right tone at the top.

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