Forget All-NBA snub: Jaylen Brown is powering Celtics toward 18th title

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BOSTON – By saying he didn’t give a (expletive) about being left off the All-NBA teams that were announced Wednesday, it was an indication that perhaps Jaylen Brown cared a slight bit about the snub.

Yes, Brown is concerned about getting back to the NBA Finals, and yes, he made All-NBA last season, which made him eligible for a five-year, $300 million contract.

But still, professional athletes are high-level competitors.

“I watched guys get praised and anointed that I feel are half as talented as me on either side of the ball,” Brown said. “At this point in my life, I just embrace it. It comes with being who I am and what I stand for and I ain’t really changing that. So I just come out, and I’m grateful to step out on the floor each and every night, put my best foot forward and I get better every single year.

“And whether people appreciate it or not, it is what it is.”

The best of Jaylen Brown is on display in the Eastern Conference finals.

His performance came on a night when his All-NBA teammate, Jayson Tatum, didn’t have his offense going in the first half.

“Just being aggressive, wanted to get out and transition and run,” Brown explained. “Wanted to attack their smaller guards, put pressure on them, get to the basket, get to the free throw line.”

Brown did all of that.

The Celtics not only needed that from him in Game 2, his Game 1 heroics with a game-tying, overtime-forcing corner 3-pointer with 6.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter Tuesday helped Boston take a 1-0 series lead.

Brown was fantastic during the regular season (23 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.2 steals per game and 49.9% shooting from the field and 35.4% on 3s), and he has been even better during the playoffs (24.8 points per game on 54.4% shooting from the field).

Brown scored seven of Boston’s first nine points, had 17 points in the second quarter, and in the third, he had a sequence of 3-pointer, assist, steal, layup that pushed Boston’s lead from 77-71 to 84-71, dousing the Pacers’ dim comeback chances.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said he had no reason to address the All-NBA snub with Brown.

“He’s a very mature guy, so I don’t have to do that,” Mazzulla said. “But he has a great outlook on life. He knows what’s important and what’s not, and he works really hard and he knows who he is as a person and a player. So that’s the most important thing.”

Tatum didn’t mention it either.

“We all felt like internally that he should have made (one of the) All-NBA teams, so it was a shame to see that he didn’t,” Tatum said.

Brown just missed getting one of the 15 All-NBA spots, finishing 16th in voting. It’s not like he wasn’t considered. Whether he wanted to send a message or the timing was coincidental, Brown delivered.

The Celtics need that production from him. The addition of Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis, who may return from a calf injury within the week, made Boston one of the best teams and better positioned it to win a championship. But the Celtics aren’t winning the title without Brown and Tatum leading the way.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY