TORONTO – There was one item on Jaylen Brown’s Christmas wish list this year that ranked high above all others: a victory in Toronto. The fourth-year wing had been winless in six career outings at Scotiabank Arena heading into Wednesday’s holiday matinee. In fact, the C’s hadn’t won a game north of the border since April 4, 2015, when Brown was still a senior in high school.
The longstanding skid, however, finally came to an end Wednesday afternoon, as Brown produced a 30-point, six-rebound, four-assist effort that propelled the C’s to a 118-102 victory. In the process, the 23-year-old, became the youngest player in franchise history to drop 30 into the scoring column on Christmas Day, surpassing Bill Russell, who accomplished the feat as a 24-year-old back in 1958.
“I was just trying to be efficient,” Brown said after shooting 10-of-13 from the field, 5-of-7 from long range and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. “I think that was the goal – just being aggressive, but trying to make every shot. No wasted motion. It was good to get a win here on Christmas. I'd never won here, period, so it was great to get one.”
What was most impressive about Brown’s offensive effort was the variety of ways in which he put the ball through the hoop. He was attacking and scoring in the paint, he was drawing contact and getting to the free-throw line, and he was consistently knocking down shots from both the mid-range and from long distance.
“A couple of those late-clock shots were awfully tough,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens commented on Brown’s shot selection. “A lot of those plays he was just playing within himself off of other guys. I thought we found him on a lot of kick-outs that got him going. Then once you see the ball go through the net, even those late-clock shots, you feel like the rim is a little bit bigger.”
Brown’s confidence was something that Toronto’s defense could sense, but could not alter. Five-time All-Star Kyle Lowry made note of such during his post-game comments.
“He played with extreme confidence,” said the Raptors point guard. “He played with some bounce [today], and his overall game was just flowing. When he's making his 3, it makes him really difficult to guard.”
Part of the reason why Brown is gaining such a reputation among his NBA peers is because of the improvements he has made in his pacing and timing.
“The more you see the game, the more you understand the game, the better you are,” Brown said in regard to those improvements. “As you get that time and that experience, the timing, the game kind of slows down for you. I see the game differently than I did two years ago.”
Brown added that he still has “a whole lot” to improve upon, and hopes to be even better two more years down the line.
“For me, it's just continuing to understand and see the game,” he said. “To make the right reads, make the right plays, and as I gain more trust of the organization and the coaching staff, take it to another level.”
Brown certainly took his game to another level Wednesday with his historic Christmas performance. In doing so, he was also able to check the top item off of his wish list by helping the Celtics to capture a long-overdue victory in Toronto.
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