Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Jaylen Brown proving his value with taking home Eastern Conference Finals MVP honors


Jaylen Brown came through when the Celtics needed him in their closeout 105-102 comeback win in Game 4 Monday night to eliminate the Indiana Pacers 4-0.

The All-Star wing was named Eastern Conference Finals MVP after finishing with a game-high 29 points on 11-of-22 from the field, including 4-of-8 from 3-point territory.
"I wasn't expecting that at all. I don't ever win shit," Brown said after taking home the Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals MVP Trophy. "So, I was just happy that we won."
The Celtics are headed back to the NBA Finals for the second time in three seasons, and Brown's 29.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals average against Indy in a four-game sweep was more than enough to be voted the series most valuable player -- beating out fellow All-NBA teammate Jayson Tatum in a very slim 5-4 voting margin.

Still, it was Brown's play that stuck out the most regardless if Tatum may have had better all-around stats in the Eastern Conference Finals, especially after hitting the biggest shot of the series to send it into overtime following the team's late fourth quarter-rally in Game 1 -- to pull out a 133-128 victory. He would follow that up with a 40-point performance in Game 2 and Brown made the game-winning assist to Derrick White to cap off a 15-4 run to end Game 4.
"Great shot. We work on that all the time, two-on-one reads," Brown said in his postgame comments of his one of two assists. "Before that, I told D White just to stay ready and that was a big shot, a big shot to send us to the finals."
White, who was 1-of-8 from 3-point range before hitting the go-ahead corner dagger with 45 seconds left to play, was grateful for Brown putting that trust in him late in a clutch situation.
"Man, all my shots felt pretty good in the second half -- I just wasn't making them," White said in a postgame interview with NBC Sports Boston of his shooting Monday. "The one before the [game-winning shot] felt great, so just stay ready. Shout out to JB, great pass. I was due for one."
Brown also made a defensive impact throughout the best-of-7 series as well, including his block on Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard that would have put Indiana ahead with 1:05 remaining in the final frame of Game 4, which was the play prior to the wing finding a wide open White on the ensuing possession for the C's to take the lead for good.

While Brown somewhat downplayed his feelings on not making an All-NBA team following his Game 2 offensive explosion, it was not being named to any All-Defensive teams that seemed to bother the 26-year old the most after a season of vast improvements on the other side of the ball.
"I think I'm one of the best two-way wings, guards, whatever you want to say, in this game," Brown said Monday. "I thought this year I've taken a level and I've increased it. I took the matchup, I picked up guys full-court, I chase guys off screens, I battle with bigs. I felt like I should have been All-Defensive. 

"And that probably hurt me the most because that's one of the things that I set out in the season that I wanted to be. But as time has gone by and I got to this point, like I just stopped caring. I just embraced -- I don't care who sees what, as long as my team knows my value, my city knows my value, my family. And that's all I really care about."
Overall, it can be argued that Brown is coming off his best season as a pro, despite scoring less points per game (23 points compared to over 26 a year ago) to go along with 5.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 49.9% from the field -- it didn't always scream as a candidate for individual awards when it came to the Celtics forward.

However, if you ask Brown at this stage of his career of what is important and he'll tell you that winning a an NBA title as a team is what matters most to him and finally achieving the goal of raising the Celtics' elusive 18th banner. 
"You just embrace it. At this point, I'm at that phase in my life where I just embrace all forms of negativity or whatever the case is," Brown said. "Some stuff I don't understand -- it ain't meant for me to understand it, but I just know who I am. And what I stand for. Sometimes it makes people feel uncomfortable. And sometimes I miss out on things -- I miss out on opportunities, awards, marketing deals, or whatever the case may be. 

"And at this point, I just embrace it. I am who I am. And I'm gonna stand on my beliefs. And I'm one of those people who would die for what they believe in. So I just embraced it at this point. And I'm grateful that I'm able to be in this position and the energy's about to shift."
With the passing of legend Bill Walton Monday, just hours before the Celtics punched their ticket to the NBA Finals, it should give the roster another reason to finish the job as they're just four wins away from winning a championship -- adding yet another chapter to basketball's most storied franchise.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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