Jaylen Brown

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Jaylen Brown's confidence is sky high and so is his ceiling as Celtics close in on Finals

John Tomase
May 17, 2018 - 4:42 pm
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Jaylen Brown entered the NBA as an enigma. He scored on athleticism as a freshman at Cal, and there were questions about how his game would translate to the NBA. Did he possess 3-point range? Would his offensive game develop the necessarily polish? And what position was he, anyway?

Not even two years later, Brown is providing answers. And it's fair to say he has picked the right time to blossom.

With the Celtics two games from the NBA Finals heading into Saturday's Game 3 against the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, Brown has emerged as one of the most valuable pieces of the puzzle. He's averaging 17.8 points a game this postseason, has already reached 30 twice -- including a career-high 34 against the Bucks in the first round -- and on Tuesday night delivered 14 first-quarter points when the Celtics were desperate to survive LeBron James's 21-point onslaught.

A year ago, we still didn't really know what Brown might become. That picture is coming into much sharper focus now.

"The more experience you go through and the more time you spend on the floor and the more situations you see, the more confident I've gotten," Brown told reporters at Celtics practice on Thursday. "I'm a pretty confident guy, but I feel like during this postseason my confidence has reached a new ceiling, and it's just going up and up as we speak. I don't really feel like there's nothing I can't do on the floor. It's just a matter of doing it."

Brown delivered 23 points in each of the first two games against Cleveland while shooting .529 from the floor and .462 (6-for 13) from 3-point range. His fast starts in Games 1 and 2 propelled the Celtics.

"I've just been playing ball," Brown said. "I don't think it's been a point of emphasis for me to come out hot. I just think just my aggression, just trying to hit first rather than getting hit first. I think this coaching staff definitely has relayed that message. We can't come out and get punched in the mouth. I definitely want to be one of the players and spark our team to come out and just take the fight to them."

He has done just that, not backing down from the mighty James in the process.

"Why should I?" Brown said. "The stage is set for all of us to do something spectacular. LeBron has been to The Finals seven straight times. He's a great player. But we want to win, and we want to be the team that does win it and gets to the Finals. We've got a bunch of young guys trying to make names for themselves in this league. Why not come out and play hard? Everybody says we're playing with house money anyway, so why not come out with the energy level that we need and try to do something special?"

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