Home Sports Celtics’ Jaylen Brown shrugs off All-NBA snub with explosive Game 2 vs. Pacers

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown shrugs off All-NBA snub with explosive Game 2 vs. Pacers

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Boston, MA - May 23: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics shouts in celebration during the second half of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indianapolis Pacers at TD Garden. (Photo by Matt Stone/Boston Herald)

BOSTON – In the third quarter of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, Indiana’s Pascal Siakam threw a pass that Pacers teammate TJ McConnell mishandled. One moment was all Jaylen Brown needed. The Celtics star attacked the ball, leaving McConnell in his wake and finishing Siakam’s foul.

While Brown was on the line, the chants usually reserved for Jayson Tatum filled TD Garden: “MVP! MVP!”

It was a fitting recognition for Brown, who was 24 hours removed from an All-NBA snub. He scored a game-high 40 points in a 126-110 victory, giving the Celtics a 2-0 lead in a series that now heads to Game 3 at Indiana.

“He cares about the right things, but I think those kinds of things motivate him,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said.

Did the snub motivate Brown’s career-high in the playoffs?

“We’re two games away from the finals,” Brown added, “so I honestly don’t have time to worry.”

He never addressed the snub to his teammates at morning shootaround, but “we all felt, internally, that he should have been one of the All-NBA teams, so it was a shame to see that he didn’t,” he said. Tatum.

While Thursday was a statement for Brown, the night couldn’t have gone worse for Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton, whose selection to the All-NBA Third Team was one of several that kept Brown from the honor this season. In that same third quarter, Haliburton reaggravated the left hamstring injury that sidelined him for 10 games earlier in the season. His status for the rest of the series remains in doubt.

“We’ll know more tomorrow and even more on Saturday,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said in response to a question about the status of his point guard, who finished with 10 points and eight assists in 28 minutes.

Haliburton’s selection to the All-NBA team puts him in line for a supermax contract, similar to the one Brown signed last summer, when he became the league’s highest-paid player. The five-year, $286 million extension Brown received was a matter of timing. He was the only All-NBA selection last year who was due to sign a new contract. The next contract signed by an All-NBA veteran (i.e. Tatum) will take precedence over Brown’s, and so on.

Still, Brown found himself in hell for receiving the same salary as his brothers, if only because outsiders don’t consider him on the same level as the game’s greats. He doesn’t even know how to dribble with his left hand., they said, and there was some truth to last season’s Eastern Conference finals loss to the eighth-seeded Miami Heat. So what did Brown do? He improved his handling and improved his game, as he has done for eight years.

“I see guys being praised and anointed. I feel like they’re half as talented as me on both sides of the ball,” Brown said, “but at this point in my life I just accept it. It comes with who I am and what I do.” . I defend it and I’m not really going to change that. And I’m grateful to go out on the court every night and do my best every year, whether people appreciate it or not. it is what it is.”

Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown has scored 40 or more points 11 times in his NBA career and three of them will come in 2024. (Photo by Matt Stone/Boston Herald)

What a luxury Brown is for these Celtics. Tatum, a first-team All-NBA player, struggled to start Game 2, scoring four points on eight shots in the first half, so Boston turned to its closest facsimile. Brown scored 17 of his 40 points in the second quarter, when the Celtics opened on a 17-0 run that altered the outcome. As Indiana’s defense shifted its attention from Tatum to Brown, the Celtics’ senior star showed off his improved passing. His two assists belied the number of opportunities his game created.

“He made the right play,” said Mazzulla, who hopes the NBA’s tracking of Brown’s potential and secondary assists better reflects the severity of his Game 2. “That’s the most important thing.”

What’s important about Brown is often lost in the NBA discussion. He’s not Boston’s leading scorer, but only 18 players have averaged more than him this season. He’s not Boston’s top defender, but only 13 players received more first-team All-Defensive votes than him this season. Only Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander can be considered better than Brown in both aspects.

“I don’t take it for granted,” Brown said. “I keep that in perspective, regardless of what’s being said or whatever narrative or discourse is around me. I just try to go out and add value on both sides of the court, and I feel like, when it comes down to it, there’s not much.” better people in this league.”

When it comes to Brown, for some reason we feel the need to point out his flaws for what we imagine he might be as a leader of his own team, instead of acknowledging how he has fit his talents into this team: a 64- wins one, plus . Already second fiddle to Tatum, Brown’s role diminished even further when the Celtics acquired Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porziņģis in the offseason. As easy as we think it should be to assimilate into a star-studded team, it’s harder than we think to be equally efficient in fewer opportunities.

Except that’s precisely what Brown has done. His scoring may be down, but his percentages are in line with last season, when his 26.6 points per game ranked ninth in the league. His 3.6 assists per game this season are a career-high. He often takes on the responsibility of defending the opponent’s best wing, taking that responsibility away from Tatum. The usage of it has decreased and the winning percentages of it have increased. That’s Jaylen Brown.

All of which ignores a practically unparalleled explosiveness.

Every new season is Brown’s best, and it was all evident on Thursday. He stepped back and hit a 3-pointer over Indiana’s Obi Toppin. He sneaked behind the defense for an alley-oop. He intimidated Siakam, an All-NBA talent who isn’t so easily intimidated, in the paint. He split two defenders in the pick-and-roll and finished around another. He placed smaller defenders and brought bigger ones to the perimeter, only to run past them.

“He’s got it all,” said Celtics guard Jrue Holiday, who finished the second game with another 15 points and 10 assists. “Everyone sees what I see. Great player, great leader, wants to win and takes things into his own hands. Having a guy like that on my side, I love it. I ride for him. The way JB has been playing, Man, it’s exceptional.”

All-NBA may not be in the cards for Brown this season, but Eastern Conference Finals MVP is already up for grabs.

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