Let’s start with the good news: Jaylen Brown is back. After missing three out of the last five games with an illness and shoulder bursitis, Brown returned on Sunday in Charlotte to a solid 20-point, 8-rebound performance in the loss. And with the Celtics shorthanded last night against the visiting Thunder, Brown put together one of his best games of the season, tallying 39 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 steals.
As Boston tried to storm back, Brown hurt his left wrist twice, once during a live ball turnover against Luguentz Dort and another at the end of the game trying to brace his fall after a Dort shooting foul.
When asked about his wrist in his postgame presser, Brown shrugged it off and said, “I’m OK.” Unfortunately, Brown’s sore wrist and complete game were all for naught as Boston dropped possibly their worst loss of the season to an Oklahoma City team tanking for draft position.
Granted, the Celtics were missing Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Robert Williams. They’ve missed 167 games to COVID and ran out their 29th different starting lineup of the year. But this wasn’t a game they should lose, especially considering there are ten games left in the season and Boston sits precariously close to the play-in tournament.
“We gotta play with more of a sense of urgency. Tonight, I felt like we didn’t have the sense of urgency that we needed across the board,” Brown said after the Thunder ended their 14-game losing streak on the Celtics home floor. “A team that has some young talented players came ready to play and we got beat. We gotta come and have some pride and play with some urgency.”
After getting throttled by the Hornets, Brown seemed cool and collected. Even a loss to OKC in The Garden couldn’t phase him. He liked the shots the Celtics were getting, but it was just one of those nights when they weren’t falling. Boston missed an astounding 38 out of 49 from behind the arc, but instead of raising his arms to the basketball gods, Brown attacked the paint at every turn and went to the line nine times.
However, a loss is a loss, good or bad, but for Brown, it’s just another brick in the wall. That may just be the attitude of a veteran that’s been through the postseason wars of the last four years, knowing that their goals are only achievable in May, June, and July.
“Keep developing chemistry and find that inner flame, man. It needs to be ignited. The passion needs to show on the court. The urgency needs to show. We need that desperately. We need that fire. We need that fight,” Brown said of his and the team’s goals to close out the regular season.
“We gotta stop getting hit in the face and then trying to respond. We gotta punch first as a unit. Everybody has to be engaged on that. I still believe that, in ten games, it’s enough time to find it, to get things going. We’ve just go to be committed to it. We’ve got some guys out. We’ve got some guys injured. It hasn’t been the easiest season, but I believe in this organization, the guys in this locker room, and I think we can find that fight. We just gotta do it. I know people are tired of hearing it, but until we show up every single night, it’s going to be tough. We can’t wait until the playoffs. Now, it’s time. We gotta be better, man.”