Jaylen Brown led the charge for Boston in their bounce-back 109-86 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night, scoring 30 points (25 points in the 1st half) to lead all scorers on 11-18 shooting (6-10 from beyond the arc) to go along with 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and a block.
“We knew we had to come out and play like our season was on the line, and we did,” said Brown of the team’s efforts. The Celtics managed to set a new franchise record for the most threes made in a playoff game with 20 from behind the arc; Boston also managed to hold Milwaukee to only 86 points, the lowest total of the season for the Bucks.
The game was a massive step in the right direction for Jaylen Brown following an underwhelming performance on Sunday in Game 1. Still recovering from a hamstring injury, Brown only scored 12 points on 4-13 shooting (3-9 from three) in 38 minutes of playing time. His subpar performance drew harsh criticism, but teammates weren’t nearly as concerned as fans and media.
“Aww...s***, we all had a rough night. I have all the faith in the world in JB,” said teammate Jayson Tatum, “No one should hang their heads. Just get ready for the next one.”
Jaylen Brown out on the court hours before tip-off pic.twitter.com/tUUXR0t6Bx— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) May 3, 2022
More than eager to put the ugly performance in the rearview, Brown arrived at TD Garden hours before tipoff to get shots up and get his groove back. His demeanor and attitude spoke volumes, and his fellow Celtics knew long before tipoff that Brown had an axe to grind and scores to settle.
“I saw it in his eyes,” said Grant Williams after Boston’s convincing win. Jayson Tatum echoed the same sentiment, saying, “If I was a betting man, I would bet that JB was going to have a great game and he set the tone. That was big for us.”
There was a stark contrast between his performances in Games 1 and 2, as Brown’s quick start and contagious energy helped the Celtics catch fire offensively in the first half. Draining a playoff career-high six threes, Brown’s early efforts drove Boston to a 25-point lead at halftime.
In addition to heating up as a shooter, his facilitating and carefulness with the ball improved immensely. After notching seven turnovers in Game 1, Brown only registered two over 38 minutes of floor time while dishing out six assists with Boston’s lead guard Marcus Smart sidelined with a thigh contusion. Brown slowed down as the game progressed, as he continues to battle a nagging hamstring injury.
Jaylen Brown is a bad man pic.twitter.com/4nJ1HGvMKs— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 3, 2022
The Celtics staff have been very aware of Brown’s injury, and have done their best to manage his minutes accordingly. Head coach Ime Udoka said, “it may tighten up during games, he’s playing heavy minutes...being that we were up in the 16-18 range, we wanted to get him out.”
Brown was noticeably reaching for his hamstring multiple times later in the game, and was clearly in some discomfort. Nevertheless, he refused to make any excuses or complain to the press about his injury.
“It’s good,” Brown said as he reassured the press, “I’ll be ready for Game 3.” When asked about how much time Brown has invested in keeping his body healthy and ready, he made clear that he’s completely locked in. “My whole life is on pause,” said Brown, “The only thing that matters is the playoffs.” With a few days rest between now and Game 3, the Celtics and Brown will have some time to heal and prepare for another battle in Milwaukee.