USA Today Sports

Celtics 110, Hawks 99: Is Jaylen Brown becoming a star?

Rob Bradford
November 18, 2017 - 10:39 pm

After the Celtics' 15th win in a row, Tommy Heinsohn was being Tommy Heinsohn.

"This guy is going to be a superstar," said the NBC Sports Boston analyst following the C's 110-99 win over the Hawks Saturday night. (For a complete recap, click here.)

Tommy and hyperbole usually have a pretty strong partnership in most situations, but this time he might simply be stating the obvious. Jaylen Brown is sure starting to look like the kind of elite player that is continuing to add even more optimism to the most optimistic team in the NBA.

This time Brown netted a career-high 27 points, teaming with Kyrie Irving (30 points) to torture a Hawks team that was coming off a 46-point win over Sacramento. Brown continued to display the kind of athleticism and shooting acumen that suggests this isn't just a fluky run by the second-year guard.

The performances by Brown the last two games is made even more impressive considering he has had to deal with the tragic death of one of his closest friends. That reality only cements the guard's reputation as a mentally tough, and confident, 21-year-old.

But this is about ability. Brown has perhaps more of it than many thought coming into this season.

Remember, he was a bit of a mystery for many coming off a rookie season which saw Brown average 17.2 minutes and 6.6 points per game. It seemed like a pretty healthy leap of faith to think he would be able to make up for the departed Avery Bradley, who averaged 16.3 points per game a year ago while providing next-level defense.

But that's exactly where we've landed with Brown.

He has provided almost the identical numbers to what Bradley left behind, with one notable difference: Brown is a more versatile defensive player who does a better job creating his own shot. That's no slight on the former Celtic -- who is having his best season yet with Detroit, averaging almost 18 points per game while shooting 45 percent from beyond the 3-point stripe. It's simply a nod to how far his replacement has come, and how he offers more of what Brad Stevens' team needs.

Brown still has to prove these performances are here to stay, having turned in a 3-for-14 showing from the field a week before. Still, without this version of this player the Celtics don't beat Golden State Thursday night, and don't come back from a 15-point, first-quarter deficit this time around.

There were others who made this one possible. Marcus Morris is proving a subtly invaluable piece of the puzzle, finishing with 14 points and a plus-18. And, for the second straight game, Jayson Tatum rebounded from an awkward start to finish strong (14 points, 7 rebounds).

It was the third overall pick in last year's draft, however, that showed once again why he was the taken in that spot. That's where stars are taken, which Brown is starting to remind us.

As Irving told reporters after the game, Brown "is playing with unbelievable verve."

Hard to argue.

JBL Audio Stat of the Game: Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown were a combined 20-of-25 for 57 points .

JBL is the Official Sound of Jayson Tatum, The Boston Celtics, and the NBA.

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