BOSTON — Veteran leadership? Sure. Defensive presence in the post? Definitely.
Hitting clutch shots in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals? That probably was not in P.J. Brown's job description when he signed with the Boston Celtics on Feb. 27.
Nevertheless, the 38-year-old provided plenty of offensive heroics yesterday at TD Banknorth Garden. Brown enjoyed a perfect afternoon of shooting (4 for 4 from the field, 2 for 2 at the line) and tallied 10 points and six rebounds off the bench as Boston survived, 97-92, over the Cleveland Cavaliers and punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference finals.
The series against the Detroit Pistons will begin tomorrow at the Garden (8:30 p.m.). Detroit wrapped up its series Tuesday.
Brown, who had been seldom used in the series (5 of the 6 games he had played 10:07 or less), played 20 minutes. He scored six of his 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a 17-foot jumper that shook the sold-out arena and put the Green up 91-88 with 1:21 left in the contest.
"When I signed, I thought I was brought here to help the team, but I thought I would contribute more defensively and with rebounding," said Brown, who has career averages of 9.1 points and 7.7 rebounds in 15 seasons. "As far as that shot goes, I wasn't brought here for that. I was definitely not brought here to shoot last-second shots. But it was a nature thing. I felt the rhythm and took the shot."
Earlier in the quarter, Brown made a play just as big. The 6-foot-11 forward came out of nowhere to rebound an airball from teammate Rajon Rondo (8 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists), then converted a reverse lay-up to make the score 89-84 with 2:35 left.
"For P.J. Brown to play those minutes and that many minutes straight, we might not see him for the next couple of days," Celtics coach Doc Rivers joked. "But he was fantastic."