CLEVELAND – The first two games of the Eastern Conference finals between Boston and Cleveland, the Cavs' defense was hell-bent on trying to limit Jayson Tatum which as it turned out, paved the way for big games from Jaylen Brown.
Well, the Cavs ditched the usual plan which was to pay added attention to Tatum, and instead do all they could to limit Brown in the first quarter.
Brown, who has done some of his best work in this series in the first quarter, was being paid significantly more attention than Games 1 and 2 at the outset of Game 3 which proved to be an important key to Cleveland’s 116-86 win.
Brown, who was also in foul trouble early and often in Game 3, tallied just 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting along with turning the ball over three times which tied Marcus Smart for the team lead.
What stood out about Brown’s first quarter stat line was how he was scoreless on one missed shot from the field in the first.
Brown acknowledged after the game how the Cavaliers defended him very differently than they had in the previous two games.
“I just don’t think they let me catch the ball,” Brown said. “They were denying me. They didn’t want me to get the ball and when I did get it, it wasn’t in the position I was comfortable in.”
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue acknowledged after the win that part of the game plan was to pay closer attention to Brown who had been averaging 13.5 points scored in the first quarter.
“We changed a couple things up,” Lue acknowledged. “We know Jaylen is a first-quarter player. He plays good throughout the game, but he really sets the tone early in that first quarter. So we wanted to do a good job on him. I thought LeBron (James) did a good job of closing out to him, making him put it on the floor, cutting him off and making him play in a crowd. It was good for us to slow him down that first quarter because he’s been really good in Boston.”
There’s no question Brown was disappointed with the loss. But he’s far from deterred in achieving his primary goal here in Cleveland – come away with at least one win.
“I got to go back and look at it (Game 3),” Brown said and then added, “make adjustments and come back and try to get one here.”