‘Iron sharpens iron’: Here’s why Jaylen Brown likes 1-on-1 practice battles with Jayson Tatum

"Who talks the most? Usually whoever is scoring."

Jaylen Brown
Jaylen Brown working on his baseline jumper at practice. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Last season, Celtics stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum proved unequivocally that they can, in fact, bring a team to the Finals.

“They said we couldn’t play together,” Tatum yelled with a huge grin after the Celtics clinched their bruising seven-game series against the Heat, embracing Brown and pounding him on the back.

Critics have often questioned whether Brown and Tatum can play together, and legitimate questions about their compatibility reached high decibels last year as the Celtics struggled to a sub-.500 record through the first half of last season. But the duo turned the team around in the second half and led them all the way through the Eastern Conference bracket before falling in six games to Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors.


This season, with questions about compatibility extinguished, Tatum and Brown seem to be on good terms. The two players participated in a joint interview with NBC Sports Boston on Media Day and traded praise — Tatum for Brown’s ability to speak things into existence, and Brown for Tatum’s ability to keep a cool head under pressure.

Still, the two stars remain deeply competitive. On Wednesday, they took part in a standard 1-on-1 drill, captured by CLNS Media on YouTube. Here’s a look.

Afterward, Brown spoke to reporters about the showdown.

“Just getting some rust off, getting more polished in your hand-to-hand combat type stuff,” Brown said. “Working on guarding your yard defensively and stuff like that, the little in between details of the game. Nothing but just a good workout, some cardio.

“Iron sharpens iron, so just trying to make each other better.”

Brown added that he enjoys playing 1-on-1 against teammates as the Celtics push each other to get ready for the season. After practice, the Celtics often participate in 1-on-1 games in which a coach passes the ball to a player in an iso situation, and two players battle. On Wednesday, Brown, Tatum, Payton Pritchard and Brodric Thomas were spotted by reporters trying to get buckets against one another.


So who talks the most trash while playing 1-on-1?

“Usually whoever is scoring,” Brown said. “That’s how it goes like, whoever just scored or is winning seems to be the loudest one in the gym. But depending on the day, that could be any of us.”

How about on Wednesday?

“It was pretty even today,” Brown said. “JT won some games, Payton won some games, so I thought it was pretty balanced. But those two probably talked the most.”


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