As one of only four Boston Celtics players to return from last year’s playoff team, Jaylen Brown is showing leadership in this year’s playoffs.
Bring on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers once again. Following a 114-112 Game 5 series clinching win over the Philadelphia 76ers, the Boston Celtics are back in the Eastern Conference Finals with a completely different team from their 2018 roster, except for one Jaylen Brown.
Along with veteran forward Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier, the second-year swingman experienced the beat down the Cavaliers gave the Celtics a year ago. But, this year will be different.
Not only are the Cavs without Kyrie Irving this time around, the five-time All-Star point guard is on Boston’s bench mentoring young players like Brown, a player a year matured and mildly better offensively than he was as a rookie going up against Cleveland.
No, he isn’t going to muscle or even match a player like LeBron James. But, as he showed as a rookie and during the season, he has no fear of the man known as “The King.” He is not going to bow down at his throne because he has put the league on notice that he is coming…and so are his Boston Celtics.
In Wednesday night’s victory over the 76ers, Jaylen Brown put the team on his shoulders (and bad hamstring), with timely shooting and a leadership on and off the court. With 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting, this 21-year-old rising star showed up and made sure that this series was not going back to Philadelphia.
The rise of a star is within his growth
As much as his own determination and mental focus has been the main components of his transcendence, last year’s Eastern Conference Finals beat down has fueled his growth. That’s why without Irving and Gordon Hayward, the Boston Celtics are back again.
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Teammate Al Horford has witnessed that growth first hand and lauded Brown’s progress after the Game 5 victory.
“Last year, he probably should have played more, but we had a lot of guys,” Horford said, via Masslive.com. “His poise and maturity to embrace certain roles that were given to him last year – he learned a lot and he grew. This year to see him not shy away from the moment and be one of those guys that truly became a two-way player – he defends and is efficient on offense. He keeps improving, whether it’s his passing or feel for the game. I’m just very impressed with his progress. He keeps it going and that’s what you want to see in a new player.”
That improvement showcased itself immediately on Opening Night against the Cavaliers. After the team watched Gordon Hayward suffer a season-ending injury, Brown led the Boston to a near-win with 26 points and a fearlessness he will certainly need starting Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.
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So far, he has embraced this year’s playoff stage. He has stepped up and despite his sore hamstring has found other ways to motivate his team. Hustle, defense, a tough mental attitude, all necessary to make sure this year’s matchup against LeBron James and the Cavs is competitive.