On Wednesday night, the Boston Celtics matched up against the New Orleans Pelicans, who were down two key players in Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. Boston was without both Marcus Smart and Robert Williams, but it didn’t make much difference as the Celtics beat the Pelicans 125-114 behind an offensive masterclass from Jaylen Brown.
Brown netted 41 points on 15-of-21 shooting, including 3-of-6 from range and 8-of-9 from the line with 12 rebounds, a block and two turnovers. From the jump, he was the Celtics’ most aggressive player, and before the break, he had already logged a double-double.
On the night, Jaylen Brown led the team in paint attempts (non-restricted area), shooting 4-of-5 on those looks; if you include the restricted area, he finished 7-of-8 on attempts in that area. Outside of shooting 3-of-5 on above the break threes, Brown was exclusively working either in the midrange or in the paint, and making it look effortless in the process.
One of the more impressive aspects of Brown’s performance was his ability to attack mismatches, and his main target on the night was rookie Dyson Daniels. Drafted 8th overall in the 2022 NBA Draft, Daniels was tasked with guarding Brown for a majority of the night, and things didn’t exactly go smoothly for the former G League Ignite star.
On this missed shot attempt, Sam Hauser keeps the possession alive by tipping the rebound out to the perimeter where Jaylen Brown is waiting. Dyson Daniels gets caught looking, notices Brown at the top of the key unguarded, and rushes out to defend the three. But Brown doesn’t pick up his dribble, and calmly blows past an out-of-position Daniels for the layup off the glass.
On his first made three-pointer of the game, Brown brings the ball up with Daniels defending him again at the top of the key. Brown speeds up a little, and with the last possession still on his mind, Daniels is back on his heels expecting a drive. Instead, Brown steps into the three, and with just a tiny bit of separation, drains the shot with Daniels’ hand in his face.
Here’s an impressive sequence from Jaylen Brown, where he notched his lone block of the night. CJ McCollum gets off a nice pass to Jaxson Hayes, but as Hayes turns back to the hoop, he’s holding the ball too low. Brown makes the play with a clean block, takes the ball coast-to-coast, and spins between Larry Nance Jr. and Trey Murphy III, drawing the and-one opportunity.
Brown’s aggressive approach against New Orleans wasn’t lost on his teammates. Al Horford spoke on Jaylen’s big night, and when asked about his driving to the paint, Horford smiled and said, “when he drives, I feel like people feel it. You know, when he’s hitting you and he’s driving. That’s real.” When Brown was asked about his mentality on the night, he said, “I was trying to play at a nice pace and be aggressive, do what I do best.”
His approach was physical and methodical, and against Daniels, he knew he had a clear advantage. In this clip, Brown begins to back down Daniels, and after one quick bump, turns and rises, and gets the shot to fall. You can tell Brown was getting into a rhythm, and in the third quarter alone, he scored 18 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
On his next make, Brown draws Daniels again, and hits him with a burst of speed. Brown spins, stops on a dime, and then spins back into a fadeaway jumper over his defender, draining it. The contest was there, but at that point, there wasn’t any stopping JB from getting the looks he wanted.
In his final made shot against Daniels, the ball is passed from Malcolm Brogdon to Al Horford. Horford knows at this point that Brown has the hot hand and was cooking his matchup the whole night. Al passes to Brown, and Brown pump fakes, and Dyson Daniels bites. Daniels doesn’t fully jump, but as he came out to contest, he created a small opening and pulled himself out of position. Brown then pushes past Daniels on the baseline, and with his defender on his hip, Brown bounces off his man once, goes up, fights through contact, outmuscles Daniels and draws the and-one opportunity.
Brown gave a dominant performance in arguably his best game of the season. After combining for 72 points total with Jayson Tatum, Brown said, “I don’t think this is the best you will see” from Boston’s star duo. Here’s hoping we continue to see the Celtics blossom the rest of the way, as Brown and Tatum continue to evolve into one of the best duos in the NBA.