BOSTON (CBS) — Jaylen Brown’s status for Wednesday night’s Celtics opener in New York was unknown until game day. The C’s swingman spent 10 days in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 back on Oct. 8, so he was very much behind the ball in terms of preparing for the new season.
But that didn’t show against the Knicks, as Brown dominated the game from the jump. He was automatic to start, dropping 22 points in the first quarter alone. He scored his first 25 points in 12 minutes of action, accounting for more than half of Boston’s points into the second quarter.READ MORE: Tom Brady Is Odds-On Favorite For NFL MVP Entering Week 12
He was feeling it from downtown and he was gliding to the hoop with ease. Brown finished with a career-best 46 points on 16-for-30 shooting, including 8-for-14 from three-point range. One of those triples came from the Knicks’ logo with six seconds left to get Boston within a point, part of a C’s comeback at the end of regulation.
It’s unfortunate that the Celtics ultimately lost in double overtime, 138-134, which spoiled a stellar night from Brown. But not to be lost in the defeat is that Brown made Celtics team history, setting a new record for most points in a season opener. He surpassed the record of 35 points that Bob Cousy and Paul Pierce had shared, etching his name in the Celtics record books.
Brown, of course, wasn’t one to chat about his own accolades after the loss. He was more focused on the defeat, and highlighted his missed dunk in the second overtime frame.
But dropping 46 points on opening night, at Madison Square Garden on national TV, is nothing to scoff at. Especially after Brown barely touched a basketball over the previous week. He admitted that he felt winded at the end of the game, and it clearly showed. But just about everyone was tired at that point, as the game devolved into a three-point contest.
“For the most part, I felt fine, to be honest,” Brown said after his performance. “Coming out of quarantine, playing 46 minutes, I think I did OK in terms of just physical standing. Being away from the team that long, it’s always a risk of injury coming back with the high-level intensity. The guys in New York are a physical team. But I think my body held up well.”READ MORE: David Andrews Not Bothered By Foxboro Cold Before Patriots-Titans Game
Brown spent most of his quarantine time meditating, visualizing the season ahead. When he got the all-clear roughly 24 hours prior to tip-off, those visualizations soon turned into reality.
“I spent a lot of time in quarantine thinking about when I was going to get back out there, just imagining, seeing the game, visualizing,” he explained. “Some shots fell tonight. I only had really twenty-four hours to prepare. My breathing felt irregular, but fine for the most part. Towards the end I could feel my heart beating through my chest.”
Brown was an All-Star for the first time and had a career year last season, but on Wednesday night, he showed that he has all the makings of a complete player as he heads into his sixth NBA season. He’s consistently added new tricks to his bag, and it looks like he’s going to be a new player when it comes to attacking the rim this season. There was a lot of fluidity to everything Brown did against the Knicks, from his drives to his handles, and he was making plays happen in a number of ways. He was finishing around the basket or dishing out to an open teammate, finishing the night with six assists.
The Celtics may be 0-1 on the season, and there will likely be a lot more bumps early as the team becomes acquainted to new head coach Ime Udoka and his style and system. Starting the campaign with seven of their first 10 games on the road won’t help either.
But Brown showed some real star power on Wednesday, and he’s confident the team will soon put it all together.MORE NEWS: Police Investigating Death On Route 6 In Seekonk
“I don’t think we played as well as we possibly could, but I’m excited,” he said. “I’m excited for this team and this journey. I liked — I loved — our resiliency tonight.”