In their second game of the season, the Boston Celtics took down the Miami Heat 119-111 at TD Garden on Friday night. It was the first time the two opponents faced off in Boston since Game 7 of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals, and based on the intensity and atmosphere, it might as well have been Game 8.
For Jaylen Brown, it was a chance to get right and make a statement after his rough performance in the last matchup against Miami and Opening Night in New York.
The star wing scored 27 points on 11-of-22 shooting, 3-of-7 from beyond the arc to go along with 6 rebounds, an assist and two steals. While Brown did notch a team-high four turnovers, it was his late game efforts alongside Derrick White that pushed the Celtics over the top.
In the fourth quarter alone, Jaylen Brown dropped 12 of his 27 points on 5-of-7 shooting, a perfect 2-of-2 from deep, along with a rebound and zero turnovers in the final frame. The only player to score more on the night or in the fourth quarter was Derrick White, who led the Celtics in scoring with 28 points, including 14 in the fourth. Brown also sank an absolute dagger three to finally put any hopes of the Heat to bed.
“I was just being aggressive,” said Brown after the game, “That was it. Felt like I had some good looks that didn’t go down, but stayed with it and I was able to come out and make some shots down the line. Just being aggressive, kind of finding your flow, but just being aggressive every time you touch the ball.”
That fateful Jayson Tatum ankle injury in last postseason’s Game 7 thrust Brown into the lead scoring role against a Miami Heat team dead set on forcing turnovers and making him drive left. It resulted in 8 giveaways from Brown alone and a deflating loss in front of home fans, one that would be hard to forget. Following the team’s loss, Jaylen Brown came under serious scrutiny and criticism, and to a degree, it was valid. All of the worrying about Brown making All-NBA in order to sign a supermax extension quickly flipped into questions about whether or not he should be offered it in the first place.
However, Friday night’s efforts and clutch play are a step towards wiping the slate clean after the star inked a lucrative $304 million supermax extension. Brown has even made commitments to the community, showing high character and social activism that makes him a beacon of good in the city of Boston. As for the basketball side of things, Jaylen Brown got back to his old self against Miami instead of seeing ghosts and folding under the pressure.
Jaylen Brown will never get an easier steal and basket in his life lol! pic.twitter.com/1GD0uWPAte— Marc D'Amico (@Marc_DAmico) October 28, 2023
“The best thing I’ve seen from him is his consistency defensively,” said coach Joe Mazzulla on Brown’s efforts in the win against Miami. “Regardless of how he’s doing on the floor, he’s competing with toughness. ... Tonight, he showed who he is.”
For a team like Boston with so many new faces and high aspirations, players like Brown and Tatum are crucial in establishing a winning culture. Even after notching another clutch win, it’s still clear that the Celtics are figuring out how all of their talent works best.
The Celtics understand it will take time to get everyone on the same page, but it’s that effort and patience that will make the difference come playoff time, especially if they face the Heat again. “Not every night will be as perfect as everyone wants it to be,” said Brown. “But I’m looking forward to the grind, the blood, the sweat and the tears. Let’s figure out how to get better.”