MILWAUKEE, WI — Moral victories don’t count for much in the playoffs. Silver linings? You can keep them. But there’s no denying that we are witnessing the real time coming of age of two Celtics ascendant young stars. The sophomore-rookie tandem of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
The pair combined for 55 points in Sunday’s game 4 loss to Milwaukee. A total that has the young Celts duo in elite company.
The “Jay-Team” has shown glimpses all season long of the ability to carry a team offensively. But in the third quarter of Sunday’s game we saw what it was like when both players have it going at the same time. The Celts closed out the quarter on a 22-10 run with Brown and Tatum combining for 18 of those 22 points.
The C’s clawed all the way back and eventually took a one point lead late in the 4th thanks to an ice in his veins pull up jumper from Tatum that would have made Celtics legend Paul Pierce proud.
Shots like that have been commonplace all season for Tatum. His offensive skillset has been on display from the moment he was thrust into a starting role after Gordon Hayward’s season ending foot injury on opening night.
Jaylen Brown’s offensive skillset has been vastly improved from this year over last, but the evolution of Brown’s offensive game has continued all season. And in the playoffs, Brown has taken it to a new level.
Brown led all scorers with 34 points on Sunday, his second 30 point game of the series. Since Kyrie Irving went down, when the Celtics offense goes cold often times it’s Brown who heats it back up single-handedly.
“He’s the only reason we were in the game in the first,” Brad Stevens said. “And then in the second, he just continued and did a great job. Played with tremendous spirit, played with tremendous toughness and made shots. Kept us in it.”
Without Kyrie Irving the Celtics need offense from anywhere and everywhere they can get it. And if they want to advance past this first round series it’s Brown and Tatum who will be required to carry the load.
“They’re guys that have played with confidence not only throughout the season, but since the beginning of the season,” said Bucks head coach Joe Prunty. “They’re definitely people we have accounted for. As you get into a series, you’re always talking about what guy’s tendencies are. These two have played very well and we have to anticipate that.”
The secret’s out on Brown and Tatum. They’re both really good. Just how good? We may just be finding out.