Starting 5 Daily Newsletter

Starting 5, May 24: Jaylen Brown powers Celtics to 2-0 lead

Jaylen Brown's 40 points drive Boston to 2-0 edge on Pacers. Plus, Game 2 of Mavs-Wolves out West looms.

Starting 5

When you drop a 40 piece to bring your team two wins away from the Finals.


What’s inside today’s edition? 

Celtics Up 2-0: Jaylen Brown’s 40 led Boston to its first Game 2 win of the Playoffs

Jaylen’s Encore: After his game-saving 3 in Game 1, Brown was dominant in Game 2

Flip The Script: How Kyrie Irving’s big 1st half in Game 1 broke his Playoff trend

Inside Game: The Mavs controlled the paint on both ends in their Game 1 win

Riding High: Catch up with the Larry O’Brien Trophy as his tour hits the home stretch


Last night’s score & what to watch today.

Game 2 of the West Finals tips off tonight in Minnesota (8:30 ET, TNT) with the Wolves looking to even the series before it shifts to Dallas and the Mavs seeking a commanding 2-0 lead on the road.


Jaylen Brown erupts for 40 points, leading the Celtics past the Pacers 126-110 to open a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Two days after a final-seconds comeback in Game 1, Jaylen Brown and the Celtics left no doubt in Game 2. Brown matched his Playoff career-high with 40 points to lead Boston to a 126-110 win and a 2-0 lead as the East Finals shift to Indy. | Recap

Brown’s night was worthy of praise, and he got plenty of it from his teammates and coaches.

  • 🗣️ Jayson Tatum:The game is slowing down for him more and more.”
  • 🗣️ Jrue Holiday: “I’m glad to have him on my side. … The way JB’s been playing, man, it’s outstanding.”
  • 🗣️ Coach Joe Mazzulla:Poise, patience, discipline…”

Plenty Of Help: Boston also got 23 points apiece from Tatum (11 in the 4th) and Derrick White (with four 3s) and a double-double from Holiday (15 pts, 10 ast).

  • Elite Company: Tatum posted his 5th Playoff run with 300+ points, joining Larry Bird (6x), Kevin McHale, Sam Jones and John Havlicek (5x each) as the only Celtics to reach that mark
  • On The Way: Brown is three points shy of joining that club

Game-Changing Run: Down two at the end of the 1st quarter, the Celtics opened the 2nd on a 17-0 run, holding the Pacers scoreless (0-of-8 shooting, 3 turnovers) for the first five minutes of the period.

  • Boston Never Trailed Again: Indy cut the lead to six points at the half and got it down to two early in the 3rd. Boston responded with a 16-5 run to push the lead back to double digits for good
  • A Playoff First: After dropping Game 2 in both the first and second rounds, Boston gained its first 2-0 lead of the 2024 Playoffs

Early Exit: Tyrese Haliburton had 10 points and eight assists before leaving the game for good with 3:44 left in the 3rd quarter.

  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle confirmed that Haliburton has left hamstring soreness. Haliburton injured the same hamstring against Boston on Jan. 8 and missed 10 games
  • 🗣️ Pascal Siakam: “We need Ty, but ‘next man’ mentality. We’ve got to play together. This team got where we’re at by playing together. … It’s on us to continue.”
  • Siakam led Indy with 28 points on 13-of-17 shooting, while Andrew Nembhard added 16 points and five assists

Game 3 Saturday: The Pacers return home to host the next two games – Saturday and Monday – where they are 6-0 so far this postseason. Indy may be unbeaten at home, but Boston is also unbeaten on the road (4-0).


Jaylen Brown dominates with 40 points in the Celtics win over the Pacers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

How do you follow up a game-saving 3 in the final 6.1 seconds to force OT?

If you’re Jaylen Brown, you match your Playoff career-high with 40 points to march the Celtics to a 2-0 series lead in the East Finals.

  • Brown’s 40 points are tied for the third-most in Celtics history in an East Finals game, trailing only Sam Jones’ 47 (1963) and Rajon Rondo’s 44 (2012)
  • Brown tied Jones as the only Celtics with multiple 40+ point games in the Conference Finals
  • Boston improved to 23-3 this season with Brown as their leading scorer – 19-2 in the regular season, 4-1 in the Playoffs

The Path To 40: Brown was in attack mode from the jump, scoring Boston’s first five points. He showcased his full offensive bag, scoring from all three levels and earning a game-high 11 free throw attempts.

  • Getting to the Basket: Eight of Brown’s 14 buckets came inside the paint – including seven in the restricted area – as he consistently attacked the rim

  • Transition Buckets: Three of Brown’s layups came in transition – grabbing a rebound and going coast-to-coast against a retreating defense, being the trailer on a 3-on-2 break for the finger roll finish, and getting his own steal and breakaway and-1

  • Four Triples: Brown’s 40-point night started and ended with 3s. He knocked down two open catch-and-shoots and two stepbacks – including the bucket that gave him 40

  • Midrange Magic: Brown added a pair of contested midrange pull-ups to complete his three-level masterpiece
  • Free Throws: Brown’s eight free throws made and 11 attempted are his highest of the 2024 postseason


Kyrie Irving discusses his big 1st half, matching up with Anthony Edwards and the importance of winning Game 1.

Kyrie Irving spent the first two rounds of the Playoffs as the closer, averaging 8.4 more pts in the 2nd half (15.1) than the 1st (6.0).

But that all changed in Game 1 of the West Finals, propelling the Mavs to a 1-0 lead over the Wolves heading into tonight’s Game 2 (8:30 ET, TNT).

  • After a fast Kyrie start helped Dallas take a 1-0 lead, he’ll look to replicate that opening tonight in Game 2 (8:30 ET, TNT)

The Change: Facing the Timberwolves’ top-ranked defense, and a Minny team surging after eliminating the defending champs — Irving pounced early and often on offense.

  • 1st Quarter: After making a total of four shots on 13 attempts over six games combined in the West Semis, Kyrie opened Game 1 with six buckets on nine attempts for 13 points in the 1st quarter
  • 1st Half: Irving scored 24 of his 30 points before halftime, going 11-of-14 (78.6%) from the field
  • Tone-Setter: “First time for some guys,” said Irving after the 1st quarter. “There were some nerves. I’ve been here before — need to set the precedent.”

Reminiscent: Irving was once a first-timer himself, and his takeover Wednesday looked a little like his Playoff debut in 2015 when he went for 20 before half.

  • 🗣️ Kyrie After His Playoff Debut: “Just came out aggressive. I wanted to throw myself into the game and live with the results.”
  • 🗣️ Kyrie On Wednesday’s Game 1: “I know getting going offensively settles the guys… I gotta stay aggressive the whole time.”

1 For The Moment: Nine years since his Playoff debut, the veteran — who knocked down one of the most iconic shots in NBA history — has lifted his team again & again on the big stage, particularly in iso situations.

  • Top Iso Defender: Kyrie leads the entire NBA this postseason in iso (1-on-1) defense, holding opponents to just 13.3% shooting
  • 4th in Iso Offense: In 1-on-1 situations offensively, Kyrie is shooting 44% this postseason — the 4th-best mark in the NBA among players with 50+ FGA

Hungry: Irving, a 2016 champion, hasn’t tasted the Finals since 2017 and is eager to return with a Mavs team that hasn’t been there since 2011.

  • 🗣️ Kyrie: “You get motivation from failure, and you get inspired… I’m not going to take this for granted.”

Trivia! Rank these players by 2nd half PPG in the 2024 Playoffs


Rare Feat: In Game 1 of the West Finals, the Mavericks achieved what few teams could this season — beat Minnesota at its own game.

Minny Makeup: That game takes place inside, where four-time and current DPOY Rudy Gobert & 4-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns patrol the paint, while 2-time All-Star Anthony Edwards attacks the rim offensively.

Mavs’ Moves: Dallas has some interior muscle of its own, and when the Wolves limited the Mavs’ perimeter game — holding them to Playoff lows in 3s attempted (25) and made (6) — Dallas attacked the basket.

  • 24 Pt Edge In Paint: The Wolves entered the series with a 46.9 to 43.0 ppg edge in paint scoring this postseason, but the Mavs outscored them inside 62-38 in Game 1
  • Kyrie & The Trees: Irving (30 pts) and bigs Dereck Lively II (9 pts) & Daniel Gafford (10 pts) combined for 16 field goals within five feet of the hoop on 22 attempts (73%)
  • Why It Matters: The Wolves are 14-17 when outscored in the paint this season, and of their 93 total games, they’ve only been outscored inside by 20+ points three times (1-2 record)

Dallas Defense: On the other end, Lively, Gafford and the Mavs protected the bucket from Edwards and company, forcing them into a new offensive approach

  • Season-High In 3s: The Wolves attempted 49 3’s (18-of-49) — the most they’ve taken all season and 16 more than their postseason average (33.7)
  • Ant’s Atypical Night: Averaging 13.4 drives per game and shooting 55.6% inside the arc entering Game 1, Edwards had 10 drives and made just one of his four attempts
  • Lively & Gafford Effect: This postseason, opponents are shooting 21.2% worse within six feet of the basket when guarded by Lively and 13.4% worse when guarded by Gafford
  • Minnesota Mindset: “I thought we could’ve finished more around the rim,” said Wolves coach Chris Finch. “They were big in there, but I thought we got a lot of really good looks.”

Building Blocks: The Wolves, who led for 73% of the game and turned the ball over just 10 times, said they remain confident ahead of Game 2

  • 🗣️Ant: “I don’t think we played our best basketball… I think if we bring our best brand of basketball — we’ll see what type of game it is Friday.”

Breaking Point: Both teams head into tonight’s matchup unbeaten in Game 2s this postseason — can the Mavs remain perfect and go up 2-0? Or will the Wolves rebound and tie things up?


Gold Status: With less than two weeks until the NBA Finals tip on June 6 (8:30 ET, ABC), the Larry O’Brien Trophy tour’s hitting its home stretch.

The Path Here: Last time Larry made an appearance in the Starting 5, the NBA Finals Trophy had started its quest to the Finals with trips to Miami for F1, Vegas to meet Mariah Carey and LA for the Roast of Tom Brady … among others.

The Latest:

Follow along at or @nbafinalstrophy.