Better late than never! After a short delay, we’re back again with CelticsBlog’s Player of the Week. Today, we’re discussing the week of March 28, which consisted of four games: defeats against Toronto and Miami on Monday and Wednesday, and wins against Indiana and Washington on Friday and Sunday.
I’m going to go ahead and skip our usual disclaimer this time and get right to work, because this week, the award will go back to a Jays family member.
Celtics Player of the Week #9: Jaylen Brown
3 GP, 33 MPG, 30.7 PPG, 57.9% FG, 57.9% 3PT, 6.7 RPG, 6 APG, 1.3 SPG, +31
The Celtics played four games this week, but we’re focusing on just three. We’ll pass the first game on last week’s roster, the team’s short loss to Toronto. It was certainly an impressive effort for the Celtics under four players to start with, taking the fifth-seeded Raptors into one overtime period and leading a pair of three misses before forcing a second. But we’re approaching the end of the regular season, which means the playoffs are about to approach us, and it’s best to talk about the games the Celtics played in full force.
For the remaining three games of the week, the easy lead was Brown, who has been in absolute profit since a brief slump at the beginning of March. His 32-point performance against Indiana and Washington was his first game four and the fifth he’s reached that limit in his past eight games.
Against Miami: 28 points (9 of 22 FG, 5 of 9 3PT), 10 RP, 6 AST
Notable among Brown’s rise in recent weeks is his improvement as a three-point shooter. After 9 games running from late February through mid-March, which saw him shoot just 25% from behind the arc (an ankle sprain in the middle no doubt contributed), his past eight games have seen him more than double that number into blistering. 54%.
Of those eight games, Miami has been the most prolific, with its third most in a game of the season with five. It’s a feat that he’s met him six more times this season, and leaving his useless health aside as time runs out, only one of those games has a better percentage. His shot seemed sharp, as it related to some semblance of pick-and-take as well as a pair of obvious three-step steps into solitude.
Interestingly enough, then, this was Brown’s worst performance in the latest surge. Miami made things noticeably difficult for Brown and Boston’s attack inside the arc last Wednesday night. He’s only fired 4 out of 13 from a two-point range and blocked his shot five times, and has been uncharacteristically struggling on the edge against defensive player of the year candidate Pam Adebayo and the tough Heat defensive unit.
But the distress wasn’t unique to Brown. Almost the entire crew struggled to tie the bulldozers together against Miami. Tatum was knocked out from behind the three-point bracket for the first time since late January, and the team as a whole only fired 41% of the field against the Miami defense. Counting Robert Williams’ third loss and the reliable, easy-to-scoring threat he creates as a lob threat, this was the kind of game where the Celtics needed Brown to force the case to the top scorer.
It was a heavy loss and not Brown’s best performance this year, but the Celtics remained competitive to the finish in a game that – though tacky – had the physicality and competitive advantage of a playoff. With some usual results from Brown inside the arc (seriously – five blocks! Two Max Strus!) this is a game that would have landed in the Celtics’ winning column, even if they didn’t have the best stuff.
vs. Indiana: 32 points (12 out of 18 FG, 2-of 5 3PT), 3 REB, 7 AST, 2 STL
It was especially nice to see Brown collect some assists in the past week. In mid-March, he went through a fairly amusing little selection of games like the platonic ideal of a bucket-picker, earning 85 points for just one cent in three rounds on the Celtics’ West Coast route.
While the Celtics certainly weren’t hurt by Brown’s scoring-only mentality at the time – Brown wasn’t the main facilitator, and the Celtics don’t ask him to be – more ball movement is rarely a bad thing. The Celtics made 27, 29, and 39 assists as a team in these three games, and Brown was an active and willing player in each. His seven assists against Indiana were added to the first time he’s led the Celtics in the category since the end of February.
Brown is not the guy who will pass people, but the threat of his scoring will create chances for his teammates – if he can get the ball there. Against Indiana, he did a particularly great job of going downhill and using the threat of his thrust to create an open look for his senior.
Horford was a particularly frequent target for Brown, accounting for three out of his dime. The first bucket of the three, the first Horford bucket at night, shows how simple it is. Indiana’s Terry Terry helps lead Brown with Horford’s death, and Brown makes the easy unloading of a wide open triple pointer.
vs. Washington: 32 points (12 out of 17 FG, 4-of 5 3PT), 7 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL
Boston’s defense has looked a little out of reach since Williams lost to a meniscus tear, likely in large part due to the challenges of adapting their schemes to his absence on the fly. The Pacers collected 123 points in the 52/47/95 shooting Friday night, while the Wizards threatened to follow suit after 37 points in the second quarter Sunday afternoon.
However, neither of the explosions was significant, because the Celtics attack scored a simple goal more. After that uncharacteristically slow finish against the Heat, they were completely unconscious for the rest of the week, posting 54/36/93 splits against the Indiana and 61/52/70 against the Wizards.
Tie this back to Brown: It was clear from the jump against Washington that he was the team’s energizing force in the afternoon. In one of his signature outbursts, Brown scored the Celtics’ first 11 points, including three consecutive three-pointers, setting the offensive pace, which lost 140 points in the game. This second quarter of 37 points from Washington? He cut the difference to only 11 points at the end of the first half.
Those two games were some pretty impressive things from Brown, and a great response to the team’s shooting malaise against Miami, to say the least.
Brown is wrapping up the season playing some of the best balls we’ve seen from him all year, culminating at just the right time as the Celtics climbed up the ranks of the Eastern Conference and are now looking to edge the home courts for at least one playoff round, if not more. He will be the first to tell you that he is excited to contribute to this season after being sidelined last year through injury, and if he continues to produce like this, the Celtics ceiling could only rise.
We have an honorable mention for our very own this week, where I can’t help but talk about Brown’s latest bucket of Wizards. This is comedy for me. We start with Brown coughing the ball on a swerve by Daniel Gavford, who does his best to sell the contact from Brown’s left arm but doesn’t whistle. Deni Advija can’t push the loose ball, and keeps it inside right into Brown’s arms.
what’s he doing? Exactly the same, again, this time culminating in the circus layoffs of veeeery Top backboard and a foul by Anthony Gill for the three points. Just like they painted it!
but the actual The highlight here has to be this alley from late first quarter against Indiana. I mean come. Three-quarters of a court pass from SMART? Air fishing, dual clutch and brown finish? cool stuff.
And that would be all I wrote for this, CelticsBlog Player of the Week for the regular season. The final week’s roster begins on the evening of this publication, as the Celtics begin the most important consecutive game of their season, facing the Bulls in Chicago in a potential playoff preview before they decide their fate with the second seed. at the Eastern Conference in Milwaukee tomorrow night against the Bucks. Rounding out everything would be a road match against the Memphis Grizzlies, if the supplement rating were to be determined, it could charm the bench player into Game 82.
Who will be the key to the Celtics’ last three games of the regular season? As always, let us know your thoughts below in the comments.