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Lloyd Pierce wants to ‘blame’ Gregg Popovich for Jaylen Brown’s development

Celtics, Jaylen Brown, Lloyd Pierce, Gregg Popovich

Atlanta Hawks second-year head coach Lloyd Pierce on Friday joked that fourth-year wing Jaylen Brown has seen such an uptick in his game’s maturity this season due to San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. Popovich coached the Boston Celtic for the U.S. men’s national team at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.

Despite a seventh-place finish at the second-biggest international stage for basketball, Popovich and the U.S. saw the 23-year-old come into his own over the summer prior to the 2019-20 NBA season. Brown is a contender to make his first All-Star Game selection due to his tremendous year with the Celtics.

According to NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg on Twitter, Pierce, who was an assistant with Team USA in the summer, “blamed” the five-time NBA champion coach Popovich for Brown’s development.

“Blame Pop. … If he does any damage to us, I’m going to have to text Pop and tell him, ‘Thank you.’ … Huge jump, tremendous jump great person, great player.”

Brown is averaging career-best numbers like 20.6 points, 7.0 reounds, and 2.4 assists per game, shooting 51.8% from the field and 40.0% from 3-point range. The Cal product and former third overall pick from the 2016 NBA Draft is blossoming into a legitimate two-way threat for Boston.

The Celtics are also the second-best team in the Eastern Conference as it stands. It’s partially due to Brown’s great play this year alongside third-year forward Jayson Tatum and veteran wing Gordon Hayward. All-Star point guard Kemba Walker replaced the departed-in-free-agency Kyrie Irving, so in a way it has taken more than one player to step up and fill Irving’s shoes as the team’s leader.

Boston hosts Atlanta at home on Friday evening.