Boston Celtics

Jaylen Brown's defense vs. Luka Doncic among keys to Celtics' title

Brown wanted the challenge of defending the Mavericks superstar.

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The Boston Celtics would not have won the 2024 NBA Finals without Jaylen Brown's excellent defense on Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic throughout the five-game series.

Brown was consistently picking up Doncic full court, making him waste valuable seconds off the shot clock, preventing him from getting the ball, fighting hard over screens and just being extra physical with the Mavs guard.

The Celtics star even stole the ball from Doncic a couple times in the series, including this play from Game 1:

Brown took on the challenge of defending Doncic for much of Game 5. He spent 7:10 of game time guarding Doncic, and the Dallas star scored just four points on 2-of-6 shooting as the Celtics secured a 106-88 win and the franchise's 18th championship.

In fact, over the last three games of the Finals, Doncic shot a lackluster 2-of-11 and scored just four points when Brown was the primary defender, per the NBA's tracking data.

This kind of defense is among the reasons why Brown won the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award.

Here are a few more numbers highlighting Brown's defense on Doncic, via NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg:

The Mavericks had a lowly 84.4 offensive rating during the 154 possessions when Brown guarded Doncic over the five games, per Bleacher Report's Andy Bailey.

"They were physical a lot," Doncic said of the Celtics' defense after Game 5. "They have great defenders."

Unlike Dallas' opponents in the Western Conference playoffs, the Celtics were able to defend Doncic well enough without double-teaming, which prevented the Mavericks from finding open shooters on the perimeter. The Mavericks attempted four fewer 3-pointers per game in the Finals compared to the previous three rounds of the playoffs. Boston held Dallas under 100 points in four of the five games in the Finals, which is an impressive feat.

Brown wasn't the only Celtics player who guarded Doncic in the series. Jayson Tatum, Derrick White, Jrue Holiday and even Sam Hauser all did an admirable job trying to slow down one of the league's top scorers.

But it was Brown who not only relished the challenge of guarding Doncic but also consistently succeeded in making the Mavericks star's job as difficult as possible. Brown's success in this matchup was pivotal to the Celtics winning their first championship in 16 years.

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