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Jaylen Brown.

The Boston Celtics must turn to Jaylen Brown in the absence of Gordon Hayward

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After acquiring two All-Stars in the summer and harbouring real hopes of overcoming the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics' chances this season suffered a major blow.

Just minutes into their season opener against the Cavs, Gordon Hayward dislocated his ankle after landing awkwardly following an attempt to gather an alley-oop pass.

The reactions from everybody in the arena told the story of how gruesome the injury was and the Celtics players struggled to gather themselves immediately and were staring an 18-point deficit in the face at the beginning of the third quarter.

But the fighting spirit they showed to come back from that and almost win the game said a lot about their character and one player who epitomised this, in particular, was sophomore Jaylen Brown.

Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics

The 20-year-old posted a career-high 25 points in Cleveland and was constantly in attack mode and showed no fear going at the likes of LeBron James all night.

This was a man who immediately realised that the team had lost one of its prized assets and was willing to step up and show that he can fill the void.

Confidence

Brown didn't shoot the ball particularly well against the Cavaliers - going 2-of-7 from three-point range - but his aggressiveness throughout the game was a real bonus for head coach Brad Stevens.

It's clear that the young swingman put the work in during the offseason to improve and has displayed a real confidence during his first two games of the year.

Last season's number three pick followed up his strong performance in Ohio with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists in Boston's second consecutive loss at home to the Milwaukee Bucks last night.

Luckily for the C's, it appears the versatile youngster will come of age sooner than they anticipated and he could be the man to fill Hayward's shoes.

Brown is now likely to assume more minutes and will be relied on heavily by Stevens on both ends of the floor.

"I think that he's a good player," Stevens said. "I think he'll continue to grow on both ends. But we're going to ask him to do an awful lot."

Boston Celtics Media Day

Fearless

It'll be difficult for a team with championship ambitions to rely on a player who turns 21 next week, but he's more than willing to take on the challenge.

The California product struggled to make any sort of impact in the conference finals against the Cavs last year as LeBron frequently had his way with him.

But the way in which he was determined to guard James and was a menace on both ends in the narrow loss on Tuesday night showed just how much he has learned from that experience and how it's already making him a more productive player.

Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Losing Hayward is a big blow to Boston, but if there's one positive that can come out of it, Brown will be more determined to fill the void and it will accelerate his development as a player.

The maturity he has for such a young player is admirable and this was evidenced by his comments after a second straight loss.

"We have a lot of things to clean up and we have a lot of stuff to get better at, but that's the beauty of it," Brown said. "I think we all embrace that, I embrace that. We got a really good group with a lot of young guys and I think we're going to be better for it and take that challenge."

Boston Celtics v Washington Wizards

Setting career-highs in shots attempted, three-pointers attempted, points scored, and minutes played in the very first game of the season is a good indicator of how much he’ll have to do this year.

If the Celtics are to reach the heights of the previous campaign and possibly beyond, they will need Brown to continue to play at this level and the early signs are certainly positive.

Topics:
Eastern Conference
NBA
Boston Celtics
Atlantic Division
Jaylen Brown

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