These stats highlight Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown's impact on Celtics-Nets series

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These Tatum and Brown stats vs. Nets speak volumes about their growth originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

There's been plenty of discussion this season about how Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have improved as scorers, playmakers and leaders.

But their strides on the defensive end might be the biggest reason why the Boston Celtics have the Brooklyn Nets on the brink of elimination.

Keep an eye on these storylines as Celtics go for sweep vs. Nets

Tatum and Brown both have played key roles on a ferocious Celtics defense that has kept Kevin Durant in check for three consecutive games and made Kyrie Irving an afterthought in Games 2 and 3.

If you need statistical evidence, consider this: Tatum and Brown rank first and third, respectively, among all defenders in the 2022 postseason in deflections per game.

NBC Sports Boston

Here are the top four deflection leaders in the postseason through Monday:

  1. Jayson Tatum, Celtics: 5.7

  2. Jimmy Butler, Heat: 5.3

  3. Jaylen Brown, Celtics: 4.3

  4. Nikola Jokic, Nuggets: 4.0

It's pretty remarkable that the Celtics' two best offensive players are among the most active defenders in the postseason. It's hard to find one player who is elite on both ends, and Boston has two who are both age 25 or younger.

What's more remarkable is that Tatum and Brown are doing this against two of the best offensive players of their generation. Tatum in particular has put the clamps on Durant throughout the series, limiting the Nets star to just 2 of 15 shooting (0 of 4 from 3-point range) with 10 points and 10 turnovers as Durant's primary defender.

NBC Sports Boston

That's all while Tatum is averaging 29.7 points and 8.0 assists per game on the offensive end, including a 39-point outburst in Game 3 that helped the Celtics take a 3-0 series lead.

Tatum and Brown have gotten a huge boost from those around them: The Celtics boast the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in Marcus Smart and sound defensive principles that helped the team finish as the No. 1-ranked defense during the regular season. So, Tatum and Brown's deflection stats are in part a reflection of head coach Ime Udoka's emphasis on team defense and switchability.

But it's nonetheless impressive that Boston has gotten full defensive buy-in from its two best players, who have taken over the series on both ends of the floor. As for one of the Nets' star players? Not so much.

NBC Sports Boston

Note: Games 4-6 of the Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics series will be aired exclusively on NBC Sports Boston and can also be streamed on NBCSportsBoston.com or with the MyTeams App, which you can download below.

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