The Celtics season ended with a 103-84 blowout loss to the Miami Heat in a Game 7 at TD Garden to decide the Eastern Conference Finals.
With a chance to make NBA history following a Game 6 buzzer-beater by Derrick White, Boston failed to become the first team ever to complete a series comeback after trailing 3-0 and force a do-or-die final game at home.
"We failed. I failed. We let the whole city down," said Jaylen Brown about the C's getting eliminated in front of their fans.
On the first Celtics possession of the night, Jayson Tatum rolled his ankle and struggled on offense for the rest of game, going 5-of-13 from the field (1-of-4 from 3-point range) and only manage to score 14 points. Despite the All-NBA forward also recording 11 rebounds, four assists and a steal, the injury affected his performance on both ends of the court.
"It's tough because it kind of impacted me the rest of the night," Tatum said during his postgame comments. "It swelled up and it was just frustrating that I was kind of like a shell of myself. It was tough to move. Just frustrating. Especially [with] it happening on the first play."
The burden of the C's offense with their leading scorer limited was left on Brown's shoulders. The All-Star wing's final statline was 19 points on 8-of-23 from floor, to go along with eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks, and a steal -- not exactly glowing numbers for a series finale at home.
"He couldn't move out there. It was tough for him," Brown said of Tatum. "And my team turned to me to make plays and etcetera, and I came up short. I failed. And it's tough. I give credit to Miami, but just a terrible job."
Still, for Brown it was his 1-of-9 shooting display from deep and eight turnovers that will stand out the most, as the Celtics will have a long summer of potential decisions to make after coming up well short of the ultimate goal of winning a championship.
"I expected to win today and move on. That's what my focus was on," Brown said when asked about this summer. "That's what my focus has been on. We failed. I failed. And it's hard to think about anything else right now, to be honest. We'll cross that bridge when we get there."
As the offseason is well underway for the Celtics, Brown will likely have his Game 7 performance replaying in his head for the immediate future, which was evident when he took long pauses while fighting back emotions when asked about his thoughts on a possible contract extension.
"I don't even really know how to answer that question right now, to be honest," said Brown. "My thought process is to take it one day at a time. Focus on getting better. Focus on what the future holds and see where we are from there, I guess. I don’t really know how to answer that."
In his seventh season (all in Boston), Brown made a All-NBA team for the first time and he's coming off a fifth East Finals appearance. Granted, four of those trips are with Tatum as a teammate and one resulted in a NBA Finals berth (2021-22 campaign), both All-Stars are still 25 and 26 years old respectively -- who have barely started to scratch the surface of their prime yet.
"It's extremely important," Tatum said when asked of the C's re-signing Brown long-term. "He's one of the best players in this league. Plays both ends of the ball and [is] still relatively young. And he's accomplished a lot so far in his career. So, I think it's extremely important."
Even with the heartache of another elimination and with an opportunity to step up when your team needed you most under the brightest lights, Brown understands he fell well flat and there's nothing left but to learn from it while you move forward.
"You take it on the chin. You learn from it," said Brown. "As hard as this one is to swallow, you get better. Tough one. Tough one. Tough one for me. Tough one for our team. Tough one for our organization. Extremely bad timing. You just learn. And it's part of the journey. This is not the end. We got a lot better to get. A lot of better basketball to play. And you just got to look at it like that. But tough night."
Photo used courtesy of Getty Images
Photo used courtesy of Getty Images