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Brown leads streak-breaking blowout: 10 Takeaways from Celtics/Cavaliers

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Brown scored 33 points in only 19 minutes to get Boston back in the win column

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

1. Jaylen Brown is really good. Better than he’s ever been offensively. By now you probably know he scored 33 points in just over 19 minutes. That’s the most points for a total game that anyone has scored while playing fewer than 20 minutes.

There was a thought to make the entire Takeaways different clips of Brown scoring, but that wouldn’t be fair to the other performances. Instead, here are two of his best.

First, Brown had to have picked up this shot from Gordon Hayward. It’s a staple in Hayward’s game and Brown never used it before they were teammates. Now, it’s money for Brown:

The best scorers and shooters punish a defense when they blow a coverage. Here, the Cavaliers aren’t sure if they switching or not. Brown punishes them without hesitation:

2. After the losses in Philadelphia, Brad Stevens, Jaylen Brown, Daniel Theis, Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker followed one another to the media availability and all said different versions of the same thing: The focus, energy and effort weren’t there over the last week. This game started a lot differently for Boston. They were connected, they were communicating and they were flying around on defense. Daniel Theis was particularly bouncy, as he shows here with this block:

3. Kemba Walker won’t play on Monday night, as the Celtics are being cautious with him on back-to-backs for now. If that keeps Walker looking like he has the last few games, that’s the right approach.

On this play, the on-court mics picked him yelling “You’re too late! You’re too late!” at the Cavs, as no one stepped up against his pullup:

4. This was the sort of understated, but efficient game where Marcus Smart shines. Smart keyed Boston’s defense, as he was a big part of holding Collin Sexton to 13 points, while forcing six turnovers.

On offense, Smart took just eight shots and played the role of playmaker. Here, he could have taken a rushed three-pointer, or let the defense fly by and launched. He also could have dribbled in for a floater. He does neither, but draws the defense to open up Daniel Theis for the short jumper. Bonus points for the lefty behind-the-back pass:

5. The best wins are the ones where everyone contributes. The Celtics got lots of contributions up and down the roster. With Jayson Tatum still working his way back and Payton Pritchard out with a sprained knee, it opened up opportunities for the deeper bench players. We’re going to focus on the reserves, including a couple who rarely play, for the next few takeaways.

6. Last game, Javonte Green had a really nice interior pass that ended up in a missed layup. No repeat here. Green slips this one to Robert Williams for the dunk:

Green’s energy is always great. He’s starting to put together other parts of his game to maybe become more than just a change-of-pace guy for Boston.

7. Speaking of Robert Williams, this was a nice showing from him. When he first got in the game, Williams was pushed around and bodied by Andre Drummond. Then Williams adjusted and used his superior athleticism to get the best of Drummond a few times. This is a good example of Williams taking the hit, but then using his length and quickness to get the block:

8. Carsen Edwards likes playing the Cavs for some reason. He got a shot early in this one and he delivered. He hit a short baseline pullup for his first bucket. With his confidence flowing, that led to this pullup off a nice Williams’ screen in transition:

Edwards may still be a late-bloomer and a potential off-the-bench scorer. It’ll take a lot more than one performance to prove it, but he may have a chance with Payton Pritchard sidelined for at least a couple of weeks.

9. The bar is really low, but this was Aaron Nesmith’s best game of his short career by a wide margin. He also got early minutes and delivered. This is what Nesmith is on the roster to do: bust zones with his jumper:

This is a simple play, but Nesmith makes the right read in transition to find Semi Ojeleye for the three. It’s this kind of easy stuff Nesmith had struggled with to this point:

And, later in the blowout, Nesmith showed off his off-the-dribble game. This pullup over JaVale McGee is a nice shot:

It’s all about baby steps for Nesmith and he showed some real improvement in this game. The lesson as always: don’t give up on rookies just months into their first year. That’s especially true for this year’s rookies who had the oddest offseason in NBA history.

10. Boston snapped their three-game losing streak and now head to Chicago on Monday night. They won’t have Kemba Walker, as he sits on the second game of the back-to-back. But Jayson Tatum is expected to return, likely with a minute-restriction.

The Celtics are getting whole again and at a good time too. The Bulls are playing better. Then it’s off to San Antonio, where winning has always been a chore. And the week wraps up with the Lakers making their annual visit to Boston on Saturday night.