NBA Playoffs

Jaylen Brown's response to All-NBA snub is exactly what Celtics need

Brown clearly was motivated in Game 2, but he remains focused on a larger goal.

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Jaylen Brown has adopted a new mindset this season, making a concerted effort to ignore the outside noise and focus on being the best version of himself.

But sometimes there's a benefit to letting that noise in.

Exhibit A was Thursday night at TD Garden, where Brown delivered a 40-point masterpiece about 24 hours after being snubbed from the 2023-24 All-NBA Teams to power the Boston Celtics to a 126-110 win over the Indiana Pacers and a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Brown initially downplayed the snub after the game, but it was clear that something lit a fire under him in Game 2.

"I mean, we're two games away from the Finals, so honestly, I don't have the time to give a f---," Brown said when asked if missing out on All-NBA gave him extra motivation.

When asked later if he felt he was "underrated" compared to his peers, more of the truth finally came out.

"I watch guys get praised and anointed who I feel are half as talented as me on either side of the ball,” Brown replied. “But 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.

"I just come out and I’m grateful to step out onto the floor each and every night, put my best foot forward and get better each and every year. Whether people appreciate it or not, it is what it is.”

It's fair for Brown to be irked about not making All-NBA. After earning a Second-Team All-NBA nod last season, the 27-year-old increased his scoring efficiency (23.0 points on 17.9 shots per game at a career-high 49.9 percent clip) and playmaking (career-high 3.6 assists per game) this season while cutting back on his turnovers (2.4 per game compared to 2.9 per game last season) and leveling up on defense by routinely guarding the opponent's best player.

Brown's offensive sacrifices this season with newcomers Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday in the fold ultimately may have cost him an All-NBA spot, which is why Thursday night's outburst felt like a reminder to NBA voters that he's still one of the league's elite scorers.

The Celtics needed that version of Brown in Game 2 with fellow All-Star Jayson Tatum struggling to find his offense early (four points on 2 of 8 shooting in the first half). But there have been other nights where they've needed Brown to make an impact in other ways, and he's delivered in those instances too -- most recently in Boston's series-clinching Game 5 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Round 2, when he tallied just 11 points but racked up seven assists along with a steal and a block.

Brown may have been on a mission to prove some people wrong Thursday night, but he's also laser-focused on the mission of helping Boston win a championship. If he continues to strike that balance of internal motivation and doing what's best for the team, there's a strong chance that latter mission will succeed.

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