Jaylen Brown shines as Celtics jump out to commanding series lead over Pacers

Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics - Game Two
Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics - Game Two / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

The Boston Celtics have fired the opening salvo in the Eastern Conference Finals, and in doing so, one of the team’s stars has shown two different kinds of confidence in front of the TD Garden crowd. The Celtics took Game 1 133-128 in an overtime thriller and used a fiery second half to manufacture a 126-110 Game 2 victory. In both instances, it was Jaylen Brown who turned heads.

Brown was not the best player on the court in Game 1. Statistically, Jayson Tatum and Jrue Holiday scored more points and drained more three-pointers. Brown put up 26 points, swiped seven rebounds, and tallied five assists, but his heroics dwarfed any of these box score particulars.

Brown drained a triple that tied the game at 117 apiece with only 6.1 seconds remaining on the shot clock. Prior to that point, the Pacers had been playing well, and seemed to be in control. Tyrese Haliburton collected 25 points and 10 assists, and as a team, Indiana knocked down 13 three-pointers.

Brown’s corner heave was his first made three-pointer of the night. The shot gave Boston a chance to steal the game in overtime, and they did so by outsourcing the Pacers 16-11 in extra time. Despite the fact that Brown had not had the most efficient outing from distance, he still had the confidence to take a gusty triple with Pascal Siakam close by.

“Before, I was just talking to myself, if I get this shot, it’s going in,” Brown told the Athletic. “I was telling myself the whole time, if you get it, it’s going up and going in.

“I created some space on the back side and was able to make a big-time play,” Brown said.

Brown showed a flare in Game 2 that Indiana couldn't cool down

In Game 2, this same moxy was on full display as Brown dropped a game-high 40 points on a 14-27 night from the field. The Georgia native sank four three-pointers, but primarily used his size to challenge Indiana at the basket. Tatum and White each poured in 23 points and Holiday made 10 assists. But Brown, who was snubbed of All-NBA honors this season, was the central force behind the Celtics’ win.

“He has a great outlook on life. He knows what's important and what's not," Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla told ESPN before Game 2. "He works really hard, and he knows who he is as a person and a player. That's the most important thing."

Tyrese Haliburton exited with left leg soreness in the third quarter, and while his status for the remainder of the series is not known. The Pacers cut the lead to as little as two points in the third quarter, but it’s hard to fathom they would have been able to thwart a Celtics team that was up 15 points by the end of third quarter, especially without Haliburton.

Boston is still without Kristaps Porzingis, but their two mainstays have come to play. Bluntly, Jaylen Brown has outshined Jayson Tatum to start the Eastern Conference Finals, but as long as both keep their foot on the gas, the Celtics could be headed back to their second NBA Finals in three years.