Celtics’ Jaylen Brown shows playmaking growth in win over Bucks

With under one minute left in the third quarter of the Celtics’ victory over the Bucks on Wednesday night, Jaylen Brown found himself with the ball in the open floor with Sam Hauser. They had a 2-on-1 transition chance against Pat Connaughton. What happened next, to put it lightly, was unexpected.

“We locked eyes and I said (expletive) it,” Brown said.

Brown threw a lob to Hauser, who grabbed it cleanly and finished a two-handed alley-oop. The Celtics bench, especially Luke Kornet, went bonkers. Brown stopped and let out a celebratory scream to Hauser, who raised the roof with two hands as he backpedaled back on defense.

““Sometimes you’ve gotta switch it up a bit,” Brown said. “It’s a long season. We’re going to have a lot of different looks.”

The play was the highlight of a breakout night for Brown, who bounced back from two consecutive subpar games to have his best performance of the season in Wednesday’s win. He had 26 points and added a season-high eight assists in an all-around effort that showcased his growing playmaking ability.

Brown had 12 and 13 points, respectively, in the previous two games against the Grizzlies and Hornets as some of his worst habits were on display. But Wednesday was Brown at his best.

“It’s not overreacting to a long year,” C’s coach Joe Mazzulla said. “You’re going to have bad games. And two is just his habits. Regardless if he plays well or not, he does the same thing, same routine after shootaround, with his film and with reads on the court with his coaches. And so for him, it’s just he stays even-keeled, and so it’s easy to trust him and know that he’s going to work his way back.”

Brown has seemed to struggle in the early going this season to find his fit consistently alongside some new teammates. He’s been forcing plays and taking bad shots. But Wednesday he was reading the game almost perfectly. The two-man game between Brown and Kristaps Porzingis has been a strength as the duo has clicked right away. That was at its best on Wednesday. The two were dominant together in two-man actions as they found each other all night for easy looks.

Brown’s playmaking ability has been a focal point of growth for him, especially this season. On a team full of playmakers and scorers, success is going to look different for the Celtics every night. On Wednesday, it was a night for Brown to take over and show that growth. When he’s playing like he did on Wednesday, it adds yet another layer to an already dangerous team.

“I think for our team to be at our best … all of our guys have to be defined by just being well-rounded playmakers on both ends of the floor, and I saw that from all of our guys tonight, quite honestly,” Mazzulla said. “I thought Jaylen was phenomenal on both ends of the floor, his defensive effort, and offensively just making the right play on second-side actions, whether it was layups, lobs, and it was great.”

Getting carried away?

Porzingis was assessed his league-leading eighth technical foul of the season during the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s win, when he slapped his hands as he argued for a foul call. The big man did not arrive to Boston with a reputation of drawing technical fouls, but he admitted he’s been getting caught up in the emotion of some games, including the crazy environment of Wednesday at the Garden.

“Sometimes you just go a little bit too emotional, but work in progress,” Porzingis said.

“I just cannot keep doing this. And it’s not the end of the world, but definitely have to be smarter about it and that’s it. That’s it. Again, I’m just enjoying playing here and being full of emotion and that emotion is coming out maybe a little bit. …

The Celtics play their third In-Season Tournament game on Friday afternoon against the Magic in Orlando. The C’s are 2-0 in group play of the tournament and while a victory will not clinch a berth into the quarterfinals, it will put them in the driver’s seat for at least a wild card berth.

The C’s lead Group C ahead of the Nets and Magic, who are both 2-1 in group play. A victory over the Magic, who the Celtics lost to three times last season, would guarantee Boston at least second place in the group.

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