2018 NBA Playoffs

Robb: Celtics were able to absorb LeBron’s best punch thanks to Jaylen Brown

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(Matthew Lee/Getty Images)

During last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, there were very few players on the Celtics that looked like they belonged on the same floor as LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Most of that Celtics roster played tentatively, looked overmatched and were seemingly afraid of James’ shadow with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line.

Despite being a 20-year-old rookie, Jaylen Brown was one of the Celtics who managed to hold his own in that series. He took his lumps, but he also went right at James whenever he had the chance with plays like this.

That type of potential and fearlessness helped Brown survive the team’s roster overhaul this summer. In Year 2, he’s quickly morphed from a role player with promise, to the leading scorer on the Celtics roster this postseason (20.2 points per 36 minutes), setting the stage for a return match against James in the Eastern Conference Finals with better reinforcements.

Brown led the way for the Celtics in Game 1 with 23 points and when James was ready with a forceful response in Game 2, it was Brown who stepped up first to fight back.