The Boston Celtics have gotten great games from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown this season, but never at the same time. When Brown scored 46 points in an opening-night loss to the New York Knicks, Tatum shot 7-of-30 from the field. When Tatum scored 31 points in Sunday's win over the Houston Rockets, Brown missed the game entirely. Boston's hopes this season rest on both Tatum and Brown humming, and on Monday, they did just that.
The Charlotte Hornets led the Celtics by 12 with under six minutes to play on Monday, but Brown and Tatum just wouldn't let the Celtics lose. The pair combined for 71 points—41 for Tatum and 30 for Brown—to lead the comeback effort. When the game reached overtime, it was Brown's breakaway dunk in the extra frame that ultimately sealed the victory for Boston.
The loss was Charlotte's first this season, and it got Boston back up to .500 at 2-2. Considering all the Celtics had to overcome early on, that's quite a feat. Both Brown and Al Horford contracted COVID-19 just before the season, and Horford missed the win over Charlotte. Boston's depth has had to carry it in the early going, but the Celtics, fortunately, have plenty of it. The Celtics got 23 points and 36 minutes out of Dennis Schroder, whom they landed for just the taxpayer mid-level exception. Minimum-salary veteran Jabari Parker gave them 13 points of his own.
That depth is going to be Boston's pathway to contention this season. Tatum and Brown both made the All-Star Game last season, but the Celtics were still a play-in team because the rest of their roster struggled. But now, their young players are a year older, Brad Stevens has fortified the bench through trades, and with the bargains they've accumulated, they're going to be able to win games even when Tatum and Brown don't score 70. That's a scary proposition to Eastern Conference competitors.