Boston Celtics

Jaylen's growth as a player undeniable in Game 1 win over Cavs

Jaylen Brown dropped a team-high 32 points on 12-of-18 shooting in Boston's 120-95 victory.

NBC Universal, Inc.

BOSTON -- On July 25, the Boston Celtics signed Jaylen Brown to the largest contract in NBA history. On Tuesday, Brown continued to prove he's worth every penny of his $304 million extension.

Brown dropped a team-high 32 points to lead the C's to a 120-95 Game 1 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in their second-round series. The three-time All-Star tallied 15 of his points in the first quarter and was efficient the rest of the way, finishing 12-of-18 from the floor (4-6 3-PT). He also had just one turnover in his 34 minutes.

"I had it rolling tonight," Brown said after the win. "But each and every game there's different challenges. I'm excited for Game 2, to come out with the same mentality. ...

"I think that definitely has been an emphasis for me, being efficient," he added. "We've got a lot of threats on our team with the addition of (Kristaps) Porzingis, with the acceleration of Derrick White. That means a lot of guys are going to have it going and have the ball in their hands. So when I get it, I need to be efficient with the opportunities that I have, just because of how the game is going. We have a lot of different guys that can do a lot of different things. It's made us a better team, and that's also made me more efficient. When I get the ball, I want to be as lethal as possible."

Brown's stellar Game 1 performance continued the most efficient season of his eight-year NBA career. The 27-year-old shot a personal-best 49.9 percent from the floor during the regular season and is converting on 54.5 percent of his shots so far in the playoffs -- also a career-high.

His growth as a player isn't limited to his scoring, though. Brown has made tremendous strides on both ends of the floor, constantly embracing his opportunities to defend the best opposing player. He has a legitimate chance to earn the first All-Defensive nod of his career.

"He takes a ton of pride in just growing as a player—every year, every game, every day," Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. "He spends a lot of time on it. He's not afraid to go after something that he knows he can improve on, which I think is huge for his growth mindset.

"He has evolved. His ability to pick and choose his spots. He had a couple of times where he scored in transition and two plays later he slowed it down, went mid-pick-and-roll, and made the right play. I think the growth of him, even if he scores six or eight in a row and he gets into the paint, it's a pass the next one. So, he's grown as a player, it's helped us, and he's played big stretches for us so it's important."

Joe Mazzulla discusses Jaylen Brown's continued growth as a player after the Celtics star finishes with 32 points in the team's Game 1 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Brown and the exceptional Celtics supporting cast have helped take the pressure off Jayson Tatum. Boston's superstar was quiet offensively on Tuesday, totaling 18 points on 7-of-19 from the floor (0-5 3-PT). The Celtics' ability to blow out teams despite off nights from their best player sums up why they're favorites to win the 2024 NBA championship, and Brown was a perfect example of that in Game 1.

"He was in a great mode tonight, a great rhythm," Tatum said of his co-star. "He was making timely plays when maybe they were about to go on a run or something, so he was hitting big shots.

"I think just year after year, the game has continued to slow down for him. And I see it every day, the work he puts in on the court and watching the film to study those reads and things like that."

Jayson Tatum praises Jaylen Brown's continued efforts to improve as a player and a leader year-after-year.

Similar to their first-round series vs. Miami, Boston barely trailed in its Game 1 win over Cleveland. The team also notched its 19th win of 25-plus points this season, the most in NBA history.

After yet another dominant win, Brown exudes confidence in his team's odds of going all the way, but he isn't about to get ahead of himself.

"Anything can happen. It's the NBA playoffs," Brown said. "We're just taking it one game at a time and that's all we can control. We try to come out and be the harder-playing team, we stick to our agenda, and we let the chips fall where they may.

"It's going to be tough for a team to have to beat us four times. As long as we come out and we execute on both ends and we're the harder-playing team, I think we'll be fine."

The Celtics will look to take a 2-0 series lead over the Cavs on Thursday night at TD Garden with the opening tip set for 7 p.m. ET. Coverage begins with Celtics Pregame Live at 6 p.m. right here on NBC Sports Boston.

Contact Us