Jaylen Brown’s energy has never changed in the Celtics’ rollercoaster season

TThe energy is about to shift.

Everyone remembers Jaylen Brown’s tweet. The one that rose on January 31st. The Celtics promptly embarked on a nine-game winning streak that sparked a 26-5 finish as Boston rose to second-ranked in the Eastern Conference.

“I guess he’s clairvoyant – or cryptic,” said Celtics forward Grant Williams.

Brown, who has since produced t-shirts for his Juice brand featuring the tweeted message, hinted during Boston’s second-half climb that he may simply be referring to the imminent end of Mercury’s retrograde period.

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But he simply downplays his ability to see into the future. And it might have been something Brown said three weeks earlier that proved it.

On January 6, a revenge game by Evan Fournier on national television at Madison Square Garden dropped Boston to 18-21 overall and 11th place in the Eastern Conference.

Two nights later, Brown hit the first triple-double of his career as the Celtics hit back against the same Knicks team. He was then quizzed about pundits who’d spent the past 48 hours pondering breathlessly whether Brown and Jayson Tatum could coexist or if the star duo had to be split because Boston wouldn’t win with them at the helm.

A diplomatic Brown dismissed the suggestion, offering nothing but positivity.

“I think a lot of the adversity we’re going through now will help us grow and get better in the future,” Brown said calmly that night. “If we get through that slump and keep learning, I think there’s a lot of good basketball out there on the other side.”

There was little reason to believe Brown at that moment. The Celtics hadn’t shown a consistency that suggested the team could piece together what might be the most unlikely turnaround in the season in NBA history.

That win over the Knicks started a streak that saw Boston record five wins in six games and stabilize a ship that had taken on water. The team stumbled again later in the month, including an incredibly bad meltdown against the Trail Blazers that pushed the team back below .500.

The energy may have shifted, but Browns never did. He was adamant these Celtics would find out. And they did.

Grant Williams said teammates joked that Brown had to practice his motivational messages in front of a mirror the night before games. The Celtics posted a clip in the Memphis locker room after Boston’s regular-season final, in which Brown confidently stated that he would take that team against anyone Boston had tied in the first round. The Nets won that right with Tuesday night’s play-in win.

“He did a great job just giving positive reinforcement, keeping us in the right mood and energy so we can focus on the right things,” Williams said. “And to keep moving forward and not really paying attention to the noise around us. We’re so focused on each other. So he did phenomenally.”

For his part, Brown genuinely believes that the spirit of the team has changed. He can’t pinpoint the moment, but he knows the adversity early in the season forced this team to grow.

It was definitely an energy shift. We definitely made the best of our adversity by learning from our experience. And I think that’s what growth is all about.

Jaylen Brown on the Celtics’ second-half turnaround

“At what point? I’m not sure to be exact, but it was definitely an energy shift,” Brown said. “We definitely made the best of our adversity by learning from our experience. And I think that’s what growth is all about.

“I think a lot of things weren’t taken into account. It’s not a city to apologize for, but I missed 15 games earlier in the season. New coaching staff. New teammates were still trying to figure it out. And like everyone else – – there was a new front office, we were trying to gain a foothold and while we were trying to gain a foothold we were losing games healthy, I think that’s when things started to turn around.”

Brown missed 15 games early in the season due to ankle and hamstring injuries. It cost him an opportunity to push for another All-Star spot. Undeterred, he ended the season strong, though his contributions were sometimes overshadowed by Jayson Tatum’s MVP push.

Brown’s utilization rate rose to a career-high 29.5 percent this season, but he still produced one of his most efficient seasons. The most notable number in his stat line is the rise to a support percentage of 17.3, which ranks in the 89th percentile of all wings according to Cleaning the Glass data.

That playful boost, coupled with Tatum making the same leap, seemed to unlock Boston’s offense. A team that once focused far too much on isolation plays is now simply making the right basketball decision, much to the delight of first-year coach Ime Udoka. Tatum and Brown made it easier for their teammates to do the same.

Forsberg: How Ime Udoka set the tone from Day 1 in Boston

Brown was elite as a finisher during Boston’s second-half surge. In his last 10 games, he averaged 26.9 points while shooting 54.5 percent overall and 46.7 percent past the 3-point arc. He had a stretch late in the season where he scored 25+ points in 10 straight games.

After missing the playoffs last year with a wrist condition, Brown’s voice carries excitement about what lies ahead. He was unable to contain his energy, much less shift it.

“I had a little trouble sleeping,” Brown said. “So I’m just trying to calm down. I’m ready to go, I’m excited, it’s playoff time, it’s the best time of the year. That’s what you work for.

“So ultimately it’s going to be crucial to go out there and just breathe and be yourself because I know there’s going to be a lot of energy in the garden, there’s going to be a lot of energy in the arena. So sometimes the calmer, more relaxed player is the one who has the advantage. So I’m trying to keep my balance as much as possible, but I’m definitely excited.

“You could see a smile on my face, couldn’t you?”

Yes, but that smile and that energy has been there all season. It has never shifted.

Editor’s note: Each day this week, NBC Sports Boston will spotlight a different “pillar” of the 2021-22 Celtics.

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