With the ball at the top of the arc and in the hands of two priemere one-on-one scorers in Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum, it’s a clear advantage for the Boston Celtics.
So much so that whenever a pick comes to give Walker or Tatum an even more favorable matchup, opposing defenses recently are blitzing the ball carrier to force a 2-on-1 situation and get the ball out of their hands.
However, what the opposition isn’t accounting for when they call those blitzes is Jaylen Brown, a more than viable third scoring option for the C’s that has made defenses pay, including the Miami Heat Wednesday night, for trying to utilize that tactic.
Brown came just one point shy of tying his career high in the 112-93 win over the Heat as he netted a season-high 31 points on 50 percent shooting from the field, including a 5-for-9 showing from 3-point range.
“When Jaylen gets going I think he’s the X-factor for us,” said Walker as Brown was coming off a 28-point performance against the New York Knicks Sunday. “When he has it going he definitely gives us a lot more options, and he’s been playing well all year.”
Brown shrugged off a cold shooting start as he made just two of his first seven shot attempts. That sluggish beginning played a factor into the Heat paying more attention to Walker and Tatum, but after seeing the blitz defense employed over the last few games, Brown was ready to attack it when the ball was worked his way.
“I’m getting more comfortable with the blitz,” Brown said. “They’re blitzing Kemba and blitzing JT, so I’m just being aggressive out of that because it’s 4-on-3 on the backside and I’m just trying to be aggressive.”
Brown showed off a complete offensive arsenal against the Heat. The 6-foot-6 combo guard displayed his elite athleticism when he scored in transition, including somehow putting home an alley-oop attempt when he caught up to a pass from Tatum and cleverly put the shot in off the backboard.
Brown also knocked down a couple jumpers from just inside the arc, none more impressive than after he put Jimmy Butler through a turnstile midway through the fourth quarter. With a hard crossover dribble, Brown created the necessary separation against Butler, one of the NBA’s best defenders, before sinking a step-back, 22-foot jumper with Butler recovering to contest the shot.
Brown had even less room to operate on a 3-pointer from the corner with Justice Winslow draping Brown in coverage. But Brown was undeterred and rose up to hit the attempt with the shot clock winding down late in the third quarter as the lead for the Celtics never dipped below double digits after that bucket.
The corner trey has become a staple of Brown’s game with three of his five triples coming from that area against the Heat. On the next offensive possession and in nearly the same spot as Brown’s 3-pointer over Winslow, Brown connected on another shot from beyond the arc with former Celtic Kelly Olynyk trying to contest the attempt (shown in the first clip).
But Olynyk’s effort was to no avail and Brown followed up the made three by turning to his former teammate and blowing him a kiss.
“That was for Kelly,” Brown said. “That’s my guy. That’s all love right there.”
Brown continued, “He said I was going to miss, so I sent that kiss over to him. I don’t know (if he saw it), but he felt it though.”
And goes the same for opposing defenses, with them not necessarily seeing Brown or losing track of him and Brown making sure that they feel the consequences of it.