Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn’t the only freak on the court Tuesday.
Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown is an athletic marvel in his own right, a 6-foot-7 leaper who is becoming a matchup nightmare at all three levels. Put a small defender on him, he’ll shoot over the top. Sag off him and he’ll drill a 3-pointer. Body him and he’ll blow to the hoop for a dunk or acrobatic finish.
In Game 2 of a first-round playoff matchup, the Bucks faced a version of Brown that’s basically unstoppable.
Playing with a confidence and ferocity belying his 21 years, Brown wore his game face from the opening tip. He brought the crowd to its feet with a vicious left-handed dunk in traffic and he never let off the gas in Boston’s 120-106 victory.
He scored a team-high 30 points in only 33 minutes, converting 12-of-22 shots, including 5-of-12 from 3-point territory. He was a one-man demolition squad in the third quarter, breaking Milwaukee’s spirit with a step-back 21-footer in Antetokounmpo’s face, a long 3-pointer, a driving layup, and a corner 3 in transition featuring a rhythm dribble that gave the crowd a chance to rise to its feet in anticipation before exploding.
The swish pushed the Celtics lead to 14 points and that was the end of that. The series heads to Milwaukee with the Celtics up 2-0 and owning all the momentum.
“I think Jaylen loves the moment, he really appreciates the opportunity to compete on this stage at this level,” said coach Brad Stevens. “We’ve seen him against the better teams in the league all year, and he really seems to raise his level in some of the biggest games.”
Thanks in no small part to Brown’s aggressiveness, as well as another exceptional game from Assertive Al Horford, the C’s broke down the Bucks like the Garden’s bull gang swapping out the parquet between a hoops-hockey doubleheader.
At one point in the fourth quarter, Milwaukee found itself shooting over 60 percent from the floor and still trailing by 18. Antetokounmpo made 13-of-17 shots for 30 points and still found himself dealing with the frustration of being bullied by Horford, who alternated between backing the Freak into the post for baby hooks or jab-stepping him for 16-footers.
“If we don’t play with an edge, we’ll get beat by 30,” Stevens said.
Horford didn’t dominate like Game 1, but he still shot 7-for-11 from the floor for 16 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
The Celtics also got 23 points and eight assists from Terry Rozier, as well as a lift off the bench in the form of Marcus Morris (18 points), Greg Monroe (12 points) and backup point guard Shane Larkin (11 points), who rallied from a poor Game 1 to sink a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter.
But the story of this one was Brown, who banked in his final shot of the night, a long 3-pointer, and then backpedaled on defense with a giant smile. It was that kind of night for the second-year guard.
“I think that (confidence) has been growing as the year’s gone on and he believes in himself and he should,” Stevens said. “He put in a lot of work to play well on this stage. He obviously has some athletic ability that’s extremely unique with his ability to separate, explode, and step back and create separation. As he continues to get older and get more experience, he’s just going to get better and better and better.”
Full article @ Celtics 120, Bucks 106: Jaylen Brown (30 points) says hello with breakout postseason performance
Source: GreenStreet Blog