There are redemption games and there are redemption games. After a two-game dip on the road where he averaged just 12.5 points on 10-of-33 shooting (including 1-of-12 from behind the arc) with just six assists and four turnovers, Jaylen Brown came up big in Boston’s biggest test of the young season.
“One, it’s not overreacting to a bad game. It’s a long year. And two, it’s just his habits,” head coach Joe Mazzulla said of Brown’s ability to bounce back. “Regardless of if he plays well or not, it’s the same routine. After shootaround, he does his film, he goes through his reads with his coaches. For him, he just stays even keel and so, it’s easier to trust him and know that he’s going to work his way back.
The Celtics staved off a late run by the visiting Bucks and won 119-116 on the eve of Thanksgiving. A team-wide lull in the fourth quarter allowed Milwaukee to creep back into the game, but it was Brown’s efficient 26 points and eight assists that lifted Boston up as many as 20 points in the final frame.
“I thought Jaylen was phenomenal on both ends of the floor,” head coach Joe Mazzulla said after the game. “His defensive effort and offensively, just making the right play on second side actions whether it was layups or lobs. It was great.”
After the team coughed up a 9-point lead with just over two minutes to go in Charlotte and eventually lost in overtime, the Celtics came out aggressive against what many believe will be the team’s greatest obstacle in the East.
And it started with Jaylen Brown.
Jaylen Brown said WELCOME TO THE GARDEN ☘️ pic.twitter.com/wDDjaWnUvO— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) November 23, 2023
“Just being aggressive, getting into the paint,” Brown said of his slump-busting performance. “They’re a team that likes to overhelp at the rim, so some pretty easy reads all night long.
Jayson Tatum was questionable heading into the marquee matchup. He eventually played (23 points, 11 rebounds), but it was Brown that was the driving force on the night. It wasn’t just his scoring either. His eight dimes were a season high and a feat he reached only three times last year.
“I feel like I’ve been doing it all season long. It’s definitely a part of my game that I’ve been growing,” Brown said. “This is a new year, this a new season, and I feel like I’m playing some of my best basketball with how I’m seeing the floor. As I get into a flow and rhythm of things, I feel like I can continue to do that.”
Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis connected 6 times over roughly a 9-minute span tonight (5 JB assists to KP, followed by one KP assist to JB).— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) November 23, 2023
Jaylen calls it "an automatic connection." pic.twitter.com/ibu5BCawoV
Brown’s favorite target has been Kristaps Porzingis. Nearly half of his assists this season are to his building neighbor/plane partner/carpool share friend.
“I absolutely love playing with JB,” Kristaps said of their growing chemistry. “I think we’re starting to connect more and more and it’s becoming just natural for us. I’m learning his game. I’m learning the situations he likes to be in and as you can see, we’re having some success with it. It’s really fun to play with him.”
However, JB’s best connection wasn’t to KP.
“I looked at him, he looked at me, and that was all the confirmation I needed,” Brown said of his alley-oop to Sam Hauser. “We locked eyes and I said, ‘f**k it.’”