By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Jaylen Brown is turning into an extremely confident shooter for the Boston Celtics. There is even a little hint of cockiness when the fourth-year guard puts up his shots.
That much was clear as Brown dropped a season-high 31 points on the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, leading the Celtics to a convincing 112-93 trouncing of one of their Eastern Conference rivals. Brown hit 10 of his 20 shots from the floor, including a robust 5-for-9 from three-point range. He also exorcised his usual demons at the charity stripe, hitting six of his eight free throws.
The shooting groove had Brown feeling awfully good about himself, and was a great opportunity for him to silence his doubters. They have been out in full force since Brown signed his monster contract extension ahead of the season, and many have pinpointed Brown’s lack of consistency with his shot.
On Wednesday night, that included former teammate Kelly Olynyk. The Heat big man was giving it to Brown on the floor, so when Brown canned an important three in the second half, he made sure to send a little love Olynyk’s way, thanking him for the extra motivation.
With just under seven minutes to go in the third, the Heat had cut Boston’s lead to just five points. The Celtics had been cruising since the second quarter, up by as many as 16 points in the third, but Jimmy Butler caught fire and was making things interesting. But up stepped the uber-confident Brown, who casually canned back-to-back threes to get that lead back to 13 points. After that second triple, he turned to the Miami bench and blew them a kiss.
A 😘 from Jaylen to the Miami Heat bench 🤣 pic.twitter.com/MjpLSs5qba
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 5, 2019
He told reporters after the game that the smooch was for Olynyk, who had voiced his doubts about Brown’s three-point prowess during Wednesday’s game.
“That’s my guy,” Brown said, via MassLive.com. “That’s all love right there. Kelly’s my guy. K-Doggy. One of Boston’s finest. Anytime I get to show him some love, I try to. He said I was going to miss, so I sent that kiss over to him.”
Brown said he wasn’t sure if Olynyk saw his moment of affection, but he had to have known it was sent.
“He felt it though,” the guard said.
Such sassiness, but it shows Brown’s confidence has grown throughout the season. And he has a right to be confident — and a little cocky — with his shooting percentage hovering around 50 percent as we hit the quarter pole of the season. He’s hitting 38.9 percent of his shots from downtown, and a career-high 71 percent of his free throws. He’s out there knocking down stepbacks over Jimmy Butler, for crying out loud!
“When Jaylen gets going I think he’s the X-factor for us. When he has it going he definitely gives us a lot more options — and he’s been playing well all year,” said guard Kemba Walker, who had 28 points of his own to go with seven assists against the Heat.
Brown has had quite the stretch lately, eclipsing 22 or more points in five of his last six games. Over that span, he’s knocking down 53 percent of his shots overall, and 43 percent from beyond the arc. The way he’s going lately, there should be a lot more kisses flying around the TD Garden.
“People like to say I’m a non-shooter. So when I make it, that’s my gift to them,” Brown said Wednesday night.