In Celtics-Nets series full of star power, Jaylen Brown shines even brighter

After a slow start, Brown scored 10 of his team’s highest of 22 points in the final frame, continuing his theme in this series of saving his best to the finish. He scored the team’s top 9 in the final quarter of Game 1, including a late drive with Green Down 3 that set the stage for Tatum’s epic throw.

In a streak full of star power, the player consistently shines when it matters most is Brown. He averaged 22.5 points on 48.6 percent of the shot. Kevin Durant (both games), magnet sprinter Keri Irving (game 2), and teammate Tatum, who had only hit 3 of his first 14 shots in Game 2, all issued clunkers. Brown is the only star who hasn’t bowed out.

That’s not an anomaly for Brown in playoffs. The Wise-after-his-years winger has now scored 20 or more points in seven straight games dating back to the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals against Miami in the Orlando Bubble.

Jaylen Brown managed to work his way through some big moments in the first two games of the post-season.Jim Davis/Globe Stuff

“We know JB is going to find a way,” said Celtics forward Grant Williams, who kept the team steady with 17 points through three quarters. “He’s one of those guys. He’s cheerful.

“We know JB, no matter if he runs the ball or misses a few shots, he will find the right wave. It will come back to the middle.

“He’s one of those guys we can always count on, he, Jason and Smart. All three have done an amazing job leading us this year.”

There was plenty of cries, including from this angle, to peel a piece of that aforementioned core when the Celtics looked as championship-driven as they did in the days of ML Carr running the operation. My favorite parting partner was Marcus Smart, the boisterous guy.

Smart was treated by the team as if he had won the Nobel Prize for being recognized as Defensive Player of the Year, with many of the accolades in game two. Find an employer who welcomes you and appreciates you the way the Celtics team smartly does.

The idea of ​​breaking up Brown and Tatum was always an unsuccessful one. Stevens felt the same way. He felt Brown was a supplement to Tatum, not harmful.

He knew other teams would kill for a tandem like The Jays, two 25-year-olds and under-all-stars who could create an attack as they pleased.

“The only thing I believe in is that in terms of ability, mentality and competitiveness, she’s a good fit,” Stevens told me before qualifying.

“With this set, they were two I didn’t lose much sleep, to be honest.”

Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown presented a massive curling challenge during their first two playoff matches.Jim Davis/Globe Stuff

Tatum and Brown were separated last postseason. Brown missed his first-round match with the Nets after undergoing surgery on his left wrist. Tatum lit the net like the Coachella stage but was sent in by KD and Kyrie in five matches as a solo act.

“It makes the world different with Jaylen Brown rather than not having him like last year,” Tatum said. “He’s a competitor. And I know that. We all know that. It’s that time of the year. We’re all ready to do whatever it takes to win every game.”

In Brown’s case, that included six assists in the playoff, getting four rebounds, and adding his top three rebounds to line up with his 22 points.

It also extended to provide inspiring oratory between the two halves.

Ironically, the NETs are responsible for the Brown Tatum partnership. It was a trade with Brooklyn in 2013 that ended Paul Pierce’s Kevin Garnett era and earned the draft picks turning the Celtics into Tatum and Brown, overall 3 times in a row in 2016 and 2017.

Tatum was instantly embraced and an instant star. It’s a natural basketball, as smooth as an untouched jar of peanut butter. It’s been a slow burn for Brown, who is adding elements and flourishes to his game each season.

The same fan base that booed him on Wednesday night loudly booed in the same building in 2016 when Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck announced Brown’s selection.

Fans of the Celtics wanted to pick up a veteran star like Jimmy Butler. Now, Brown is that player.

Brown cemented his place as a building block, not a stumbling block, in the Celtics’ quest for the No. 18 banner.

Jaylen Brown and the Celtics lead 2-0 in the Brooklyn Series.Jim Davis/Globe Stuff

And teaming up with the fickle Smart and cute Tatum, he becomes the emotional ballast, the link between role players like Williams and Payton Pritchard and the shaky air of NBA stardom.

He has experience and appreciation for both roles. In a league where perspective, selflessness, and self-awareness aren’t always available, Brown exudes them.

He’s not worried about being seen on the same level as Tatum, Durant or Kerry.

“We have to keep winning as a team,” Brown said. “Not me and Jason. It’s not me, Jason, and smart. It’s the Celtics.”

Perhaps that’s why he objected when asked to talk about his collar championships, instead referring to Williams and Pritchard.

“They were really the heroes of this game,” Brown said.

But Brown wears the cape when it matters most.


Christopher L. Jasper is a columnist for The Globe. He can be reached at christopher.gasper@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter Tweet embed.

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