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Jaylen Brown ready for challenge in ‘biggest game’ of his NBA career

05.19.17 at 4:30 pm ET
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Jaylen Brown could have an increased role in Game 2. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Jaylen Brown could have an increased role in Game 2. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

If the Celtics were looking for a bright spot from their 117-104 defeat at the hands of the Cavaliers in Game 1, it came with the performance of the 20-year-old Jaylen Brown. 

In 19 minutes off the bench, Brown was the C’s most effective shooter, with makes on all but two of his seven shots (10 points), and paced all Celtics with nine rebounds. It’s the impact that could and should lead to a greater role in what feels like a must-win Game 2.

Especially if the Celtics are serious about trying to find ways to stop LeBron James, who torched the club for 38 points in 41 minutes. 

“We’ve got to help each other, we’ve got to have each other’s backs a little bit more,” Brown said of the plan against James. “He got to the paint, and I think he wanted to establish himself in the paint. We’ve got to do a better job of letting him see people in there and having more help defense. He’s a good player, but we’ve got to come out and make it more tough than we did last game.”

Of course, asking a player that was in high school just two years ago to stop the best player in the world seems like a tall, borderline ridiculous, task, but it’s one that Brown himself has felt ready for based on his personal expectations. 

“It’s kind of crazy thinking like how I was just in high school two years ago, now I’m here playing in the Eastern Conference Finals against the defending champs, so it’s kind of cool,” Brown said, who later mentioned that he would have believed it back then had you told him that he would playing in the Eastern Conference Finals as an NBA rookie. 

“You never know when your name is going to be called, and just how to win, the little things that go into winning,” Brown, one of just three Celtics players (Gerald Green and James Young were the others) with a plus rating in Game 1, said. “I think that learning that early as opposed to learning that late has helped me out in my career, people like Gerald Green who has been in my ear from the beginning, he’s been in the league a lot and he’s been in the league, out of the league, but he’s always made an effort to come talk to me, and he’s been a perfect example for me, so I learned a lot from him about how to be ready and how to take advantage of every situation because you don’t know how situations might end up.”

So, what changes will Brad Stevens make when given the James on Brown — or anybody else, for that matter — matchup?

“We just have to make it as difficult as possible as a group,” said Stevens. 

“I think once you take up space and [James] beats you by a step, he sprays it to a wide-open shooter. I think there are a lot of things that I think sound good in theory,” the C’s coach continued. “I just think we have to do our best to mix it up appropriately without overdoing it, and make sure that we try our best to keep him in front. Obviously, if we want to keep him in front, we don’t want him shooting layups — like probably you’re thinking Jae [Crowder] with the downhill drives. We had a few that I thought he made great shots where we actually guarded him pretty well. But at the end of the day, that’s all easier said and done.”

“All I can do is be ready,” noted Brown. “That’s my job, to play basketball, so I’m just going to be ready if Coach calls me.

“This is the biggest game of my career, and I’m ready to step up to the challenge.”

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