Holiday credits Brown's leadership as Celtics maintain poise in Game 1

Holiday credits Brown’s leadership as Celtics maintain poise in Game 1 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics put on a clinic in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night, blowing out the Dallas Mavericks 107-89. But the Mavs did make things interesting at one point, cutting the Celtics’ 21-point halftime lead to eight in the third quarter. Boston quickly squashed Dallas’ run, however, and according to Jrue Holiday, the Celtics have Jaylen Brown to thank.

“Staying poised,” Holiday told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin of how the Celtics refused to let Dallas back into the game. “JB telling us to stay poised, Al [Horford] telling us to stay poised because we know that runs happen in this game and 20 points is nothing, so we withstood the punch and got [the lead] back up to 20.”

While the 38-year-old Horford’s leadership comes as no surprise, it seems Brown has truly emerged as a leader since the departure of Marcus Smart. Coming off an Eastern Conference Finals series against the Indiana Pacers that earned him Eastern Conference Finals MVP, Brown has made it clear with his Game 1 performance that he has no indication of slowing down.

“In that situation, I thought JB was key for us,” Horford said of Brown’s message during that third-quarter timeout. “In the huddle he just told us to make sure that we got refocused, that we stayed with it, we stayed composed, and his words at that time, JB’s words, I think they resonated with the group and kind of refocused us again, and we were able to come out and really put a run (together) in that third quarter.”

In addition to his leadership, Brown led the Celtics in scoring with 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He also stepped up on defense with three blocks and three steals — becoming the first Celtic in history to log such a stat line in a Finals game — while adding six rebounds and two assists.

Brown’s three blocks gave Boston a total of nine for the night, tying Dallas’ total assists.

With a Game 1 win now under their belts to take a 1-0 series lead, the odds are now stacked in Boston’s favor — when the home team wins Game 1 of the Finals, they have won the championship 79 percent of the time.

The Celtics will look to carry their momentum into Sunday night as they once again face the Mavericks for Game 2 of the NBA Finals — NBC Sports Boston’s coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, with tip-off at 8 p.m.

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