The Boston Celtics started the season with Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum taking turns to play Batman to the other’s Robin.
However, after a strong start to the restart of the year, Jaylen Brown has been knocking on the door, waiting for his turn to suit up as the team’s de facto Dark Knight.
Since entering the NBA bubble, Jaylen Brown has been arguably the best player on the Celtics roster. This further jump has seen Boston transition from Batman and Robin to multiple renditions of Batman, with each player operating as Adam West, Val Kilmer, and Christian Bale.
On Sunday night, Jaylen Brown finally took his turn to become the Celtics’ superhero. Putting in one of his career best performances thus far, Brown helped lead the Celtics past a resilient Trailblazers team.
“I thought Jaylen was enormous tonight,” Brad Steven in his post-game press conference.
The game didn’t start well for Brown. There were some questionable shots and forced attempts around the basket.
To end the first quarter, the 6’7’ forward was a paltry 1-for-5 from the field. However, he did contribute with two rebounds (one on each end of the court) and an assist in transition.
The second quarter wasn’t much better for Brown, as he started with an easily blocked layup and went 1-for-3 from the field, taking his total scoring output to 2-for-8 going into half time. After a rough first half, you could be forgiven for believing this wasn’t going to be Brown’s night, especially since his counterpart in Jayson Tatum was performing so well.
But there’s something about a pressurized situation that brings the best out of the former #3 pick. He tends to flip a switch with the game on the line. Heading into the fourth quarter, clinging to a six-point lead, Brown found a way to come alive.
Brown took center stage precisely when the Celtics needed an additional scorer with an array of step backs, dribble drives, and pull-up threes. He became so reliable on offense that even Tatum began to look for him down the stretch. Brown was now Batman and he didn’t disappoint.
What’s impressive about this performance is that the Celtics didn’t design any specific sets to get the Georgia native open. The ball was still running through the hands of Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum down the stretch, leaving Brown to use his basketball IQ and rotate off-ball to hunt for mismatches.
If mismatches weren’t there, Brown would take up his spot on the weak side corner and allow the ball handler to force rotations off the penetration. With the Celtics opting to place Tatum into pick-and-roll situations throughout the game, Brown had regular opportunities to get open, allowing Tatum to find him in space. It’s no coincidence that one of Brown’s best games also coincided with Tatum’s career-high in assists.
Outside of scoring, Brown was active on the defensive end, too. According to NBA Stats, the Golden Bear alum was second on the Celtics contesting shots with eight, sitting just one behind Daniel Theis. Brown was second in defensive field-goal percentage among Celtics to play ten or more minutes against the Blazers, holding his assignments to 50% shooting from the field.
Following his 30-point performance, Brown spoke like a true leader.
“For us, we got to continue to get better; we got a young team. But we don’t have time for young mistakes, so we got a lot of growing up in a short amount of time to do it in. And the hiatus didn’t help, so we got to continue expediting the learning curve, and I think tonight will help that.”
Brown continued to elaborate on his confidence in the team.
“I feel confident in us against any odds, I believe in my teammates, I believe in our organization, I believe in our coaching staff. And I believe we have what it takes, and it’s just a matter of us going out and showing it. As time continues to go on, hopefully, we will continue to get that chance. We just got to fight, we’re small, but it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
Jaylen Brown has shown growth on the court and an admirable maturity off it. Now is his time to step up and become the Celtics third option as Batman on any given night. His performance against the Blazers showed that he’s ready.