Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown played one of the worst first halves of his NBA career in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat.
Brown scored six points on 2-of-7 shooting with four turnovers in 19:58 of playing time in the first half. He was losing the ball on drives so easily and the Heat were turning these mistakes into points.
Halftime couldn't have come any quicker for Brown.
Celtics head coach Ime Udoka had a message for his young star before the second half.
"The crowd is there. You’re acting like you’re surprised that they’re reaching and poking it from behind," Udoka said of what he told Brown at halftime. "It wasn’t as much like live-ball turnovers or trying to make a nice pass. It was literally getting taken from us. Be strong with the ball. It’s five games in now. We’re having way too many of these type of turnovers not being strong with the ball in a crowd. He understood that."
Udoka's remarks clearly resonated with Brown. He bounced back in impressive fashion to start the third quarter and, alongside Jayson Tatum, took over the game offensively as Boston cruised to a 93-80 victory to move within a single win of reaching the 2022 NBA Finals.
Brown scored 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting in the second half to finish with a team-leading 25 points. Most importantly, he had zero turnovers in the second half. His most memorable highlight was this powerful dunk in the third quarter.
What exactly changed for Brown after halftime?
"I just had to get settled in. That's it. As the game wears on, some of that intensity, some of that energy starts to wear off, so the game opens up a bit and the game opened up for me in the second half. I didn't want to get down.
"I didn't want to look in the past or think this game was over. My team needed me to respond. First half was (expletive), threw it away. Come out and play basketball in the second half.
The Celtics will need a more consistent performance from Brown to close out this series, and to beat whichever team comes out of the Western Conference if it comes to that.