Jaylen Brown wins NBA Finals MVP after leading Celtics over Mavericks

BOSTON — Two years ago, Boston Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown was not ready for the NBA Finals.

He shot 43.3% from the field and 31.8% on 3-pointers in the final three games – all Celtics losses – and had 10 turnovers in the final two games.

And over the past two seasons, he has rewatched the Celtics’ loss to the Golden State Warriors in that 2022 Finals.

“You can always learn from anything really,” Brown said. “But just being able to watch those moments and learn from them, how to manage your emotions, like, what you would have done differently potentially.

“I don't think that's bad to look at and acknowledge and be aware of. So, I would say a few times at least I've watched the Finals, the whole thing, all the way through.”

Brown assuredly will watch the 2024 Finals more than once, too, but with a different perspective, a different feeling. Brown was ready for this season’s Finals, an improved player in control of his game offensively and defensively.

Brown earned Finals MVP for his production in the Celtics’ 4-1 win against the Dallas Mavericks. Boston completed the job, beating Dallas in Game 5 Monday, and Brown had 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

For the series, Brown, who was the MVP of the Eastern Conference finals, Brown averaged 20.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.6 steals and shot 44% from the field.

Jaylen Brown wins NBA Finals MVP after leading Celtics over Mavericks

He had 30 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and one block in Game 3 as he and Tatum became just the second pair of Celtics to each score at least 30 points in a Finals game, joining John Havlicek (40 points) and Bailey Howell (30 points) in Game 6 of the 1968 Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. In Game 1, Brown became the first Celtics player to have at least 20 points, three blocks and three steals in a Finals game.

“This team has trusted me, especially in this playoffs and those moments to just be who I am,” Brown said. “I felt like I've been able to just deliver just being patient and being poised. Those opportunities have presented themselves, and I've been able to take advantage of them. But I give all my credit to my teammates for the trust they had in me to have the ball in my hands and to be able to make those plays.”

Brown has developed into one of the best two-way players in the league. Last season, Brown made the All-NBA second-team and was an All-Star for the third time this season.

“I told myself that I wanted to just maximize my defensive potential, and I wanted to make First Team All-Defense going into the season,” Brown said. “That didn't happen, but to be able to be in these moments and show your defensive versatility, picking guys up, guarding guys in the post, guarding contested threes, switching on, it's been big for us.”

Said Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla: “The guy just has a growth mindset. He just wants to get better. He yearns to get better. He's not afraid to face his weaknesses on the court.

“So when you have that type of mindset, you're just going to be able to take on every situation that the game brings you. He puts himself in every single situation that he sees in a game. He uses six, seven, eight coaches a day, and every situation on both ends of the floor, he puts himself in that.

“And that's how you have to grow, is to become vulnerable and on the things that make you uncomfortable, and he does that.”

Brown used last season’s seven-game loss to Miami in the Eastern Conference finals as motivation to become a better player.

“Last year, just falling short on your home floor, it definitely hurt …” Brown said. “I felt like the team was relying on me. JT got hurt in Game 7 and I dropped the ball. To me, it was embarrassing. It drove me all summer, drove me crazy."

He added: “It's really just all mentality, mentally just your will, your focus, your perseverance, your ability to overcome self. I think that's what I worked on the most.”

Follow NBA reporter Jeff Zillgitt on social media @JeffZillgitt

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