The Boston Celtics first three games of the 2022 NBA postseason have been quite an exciting ride. Their first round series against the Brooklyn Nets was expected to be the most competitive series to kick off the playoffs. Now Boston is the only team that can still sweep their opponent out of the playoffs.
There have been many success stories that have resulted from the start of the Celtics postseason campaign. Defensively, they have succeeded in shutting down Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving for most of the first three games. Irving’s 39 point outing in Game 1 was the closest either player has come to looking like themself this series.
Offensively though, the results have been more varied. Jayson Tatum has been the best player on the court so far, and the secondary scoring behind him has been superb. And while Tatum has done much of the heavy lifting, Jaylen Brown has lurked as the silent killer who comes in for the kill in the fourth quarter. Without Brown’s clutch fourth quarter scoring, Boston probably doesn’t have a 3-0 lead in this series right now.
Jaylen Brown has been clutch for the Boston Celtics in the fourth quarter
While it’s only three games, Brown has become Boston’s steadying hand in the fourth quarter early on in the playoffs. In each game, he has looked somewhat dissheveled during the first three quarters. His dribble hasn’t been tight, his shot diet has been questionnable, and he would spend long stretches of the game uninvolved with the offense.
Then the fourth quarter hits and Brown is a completely different player. His fourth quarter scoring per game goes 9 points in Game 1, 10 in Game 2, and 7 in Game 3. Admittedly, these aren’t eye-popping numbers, but each game comes with it’s own unique set of circumstances.
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Everyone is going to remember Game 1 for Tatum’s buzzer beating layup, but without Brown, Tatum never gets a chance to hit that shot. Brown nailed a huge three to trim Brooklyn’s lead to two right before the four minute mark, and he hit a crucial layup to make the score 114-113, which also allowed Boston to defend the Nets and not have to foul on their final defensive possession.
In Game 2, Brown (and Payton Pritchard, it should ne noted) caught fire to open the fourth to help erase a seven point lead that Brooklyn had at the beginning of the frame. Brown scored five straight points to tie the game at 92, and hit another deep three shortly after that would give Boston it’s own five point lead. Brown helped give Boston momentum it wouldn’t lose throughout the rest of the frame.
Brown scored a quick seven points in the fourth quarter in Game 3, but it was arguably the most crucial stretch of the game. Blake Griffin caught fire off the bench for the Nets on offense, but it didn’t matter because Brown was cooking Griffin on the other end of the floor. He drove to hoop for a pair of twos while mixing in a three over Griffin to negate his impact on offense. If the Nets tie the game at any point there, things could have gone poorly for the C’s.
Brown has had an interesting series in the sense that he has struggled for long stretches before coming alive when his team needs him the most. Considering how the Boston Celtics have built up a 3-0 lead, it will tough for you to find anyone who’s upset with his play. While he’s taken a backseat to Tatum at times, it’s encouraging to see him be able to show up when the game is in the balance.
Moving forward in the postseason, Brown is going to continue to emerge as a more important player for the C’s. As Tatum continues to morph into a superstar before our eyes, teams are going to key in on him more often. It’s going to be up to Brown to shoulder the load for the team when that happens.
So far, he has done just that. As teams focus more on Tatum, Brown has stepped up and delivered some really solid fourth quarter performances. He’s a big reason for the Boston Celtics’ early success, and he’s going to need to keep up his recent level of play if the team wants to live up to their championship aspirations.