Celtics’ Jaylen Brown drops truth bomb on ‘unacceptable’ reason behind Game 2 debacle

Tony Nguyen | Boston Celtics
May 10, 2024

The Boston Celtics looked like they were going to put the Cleveland Cavaliers to the sword and make quick work of them following a dominant 120-95 victory in Game 1. The Celtics made it rain from deep, tallying 18 makes from three to open the series, forcing the Cavs to adjust. And adjust they did. Cleveland looked like a much different team in Game 2, as they pulled an uno reverse card en route to a 118-94 win to tie up the series.

With Jarrett Allen still out, it was always going to be an uphill battle for the Cavs to steal homecourt advantage against a more rested, locked-in Celtics team. But instead, the Cavs have now turned the series on its head. The Celtics, in particular, have got to be much better defensively, with Jaylen Brown calling out the team in his postgame presser.

“Defensively, it was an unacceptable performance,” Brown said following the Celtics’ crushing Game 2 loss, per Daniel Donabedian, Celtics beat reporter for ClutchPoints. “It was a bad game. … I think that’s where we look at that and I’m the most upset. Defensively, we gave up 118 points. On top of that, we lost the rebound battle.”

“You can’t miss shots and then allow them to make shots on the other end. That was unacceptable.”

It was a nightmare outing for the Celtics, but it’s better for this kind of game to come when it’s still early in a playoff series. They still have plenty of time to adjust, although winning on the road will be a tricky task, as the Cavs have not lost yet at home in the 2024 NBA playoffs.

Cavs thoroughly outplay the Celtics

In today’s NBA, one quick look at the three-point numbers in a certain game would give you a huge hint as to who won the game. In Game 2, the Celtics went ice cold from beyond the arc. From 18 threes made in Game 1, Boston made just eight of their 35 attempts from deep, and it set up the nightmare game they had on the offensive end.

They made just 33 of their 80 shot attempts from the field, and it’s not like they made up for it with a massive free-throw disparity (they shot just eight more FTs than the Cavs), a huge turnover differential (they only had three fewer turnovers), or an incredible effort on the glass (Cleveland hauled in 13 more rebounds than Boston did, forcing a ton of one-and-done possessions).

Meanwhile, the Cavs were firing on all cylinders. Six Cavs players scored in double figures, with Donovan Mitchell leading the way with 29 points. The Celtics’ vaunted perimeter defense did not do its job, allowing plenty of dribble penetration, and Cleveland took advantage with a dangerous inside-out attack.

Cleveland finished Game 2 having made 54.7 of their 86 shots from the field, and they were also very efficient from deep, making 13 of their 28 attempts from three. There was simply no facet of the game in which the Cavs let up, and it’s a bit jarring to see the team that finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA be in disarray the way they were on Thursday night.

Still, there’s no reason to panic. As “unacceptable” as the Celtics’ defensive performance was in Game 2, a much-better shooting night on the road would do wonders for their play on both ends. Making shots is an underrated part of defensive work, as it allows teams to slow the game down and make scoring more difficult for the opposing teams.

Jaylen Brown and company have been here before

If there’s anything that’s working in the Celtics’ favor even after their blowout Game 2 loss at the hands of the Cavs, it’s that they are familiar with the situation they’re in. During the previous round, the Celtics also blew the cover off the Miami Heat in Game 1, and it looked like the series was going to march towards the inevitable. However, the Heat roared back with a huge win in Game 2 of that series as well, giving the Celtics the wake up call they needed to get their act together.

Now, it’s a bit disappointing that a team as good as the Celtics need to suffer blowout losses just so they could avoid getting into a rut of complacency. Their defense, in particular, has a tendency of being lax and lethargic when circumstances don’t go their way on the offensive end.

The Celtics will have to have a more even-keeled demeanor moving forward so they are capable of grinding out wins in the mud. Thus far in the 2024 NBA playoffs, the Celtics have not been a part of a game that ended in a single-digit lead/deficit, and they will have to be much better in dealing with adversity the deeper they get into the playoffs.