Boston Celtics

Tatum shares fitting reaction to Jaylen Brown winning ECF MVP

Brown finally earned some well-deserved recognition Monday night.

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Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have accomplished a lot over seven seasons as Boston Celtics teammates. And now they both have "Eastern Conference Finals MVP" on their resumes.

Two years after Tatum earned the first-ever Larry Bird Trophy as East Finals MVP in Boston's 2022 series victory over the Miami Heat, Jaylen Brown was presented the award Monday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse following the Celtics' 105-102 victory over the Indiana Pacers that completed a 4-0 series sweep and punched their ticket to the NBA Finals.

Brown admitted he was surprised to win the award, joking that he "(doesn't) ever win s---" in a nod to missing out on the All-NBA and All-Defense teams this year. But Celtics players were thrilled to see Brown earn some recognition -- including Tatum, who joined his teammates in mobbing Brown on the podium after his name was called.

"That was special," Tatum said of Brown being named East Finals MVP. "Big time to be rewarded for how you play. That’s a special accomplishment for him and for everybody."

Brown was spectacular on both ends in this series, averaging 29.8 points on 51.7 percent shooting while adding 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 0.8 blocks per game. He hit an incredible game-tying 3-pointer in Game 1 to force overtime and made a series of clutch plays late in Game 4 to clinch a sweep for Boston.

Tatum had a strong case for ECF MVP as well -- he led the Celtics in scoring (30.3 points per game) and rebounds (10.3 per game) in the series while ranking second in assists (6.3 per game) -- and received four votes to Brown's five for the award.

In years past, that result may have created a narrative pitting Brown and Tatum against each other about who deserves more credit for the Celtics' success. But the All-Star teammates seem genuinely invested in each other's success, and unconcerned about who's getting recognition as long as the team keeps winning.

"That was special," Tatum said of Brown's block on Andrew Nembhard and assist on Derrick White's 3-pointer in the game's final minute. "We've talked about it before: as a team, however long it takes, whatever it takes, whatever we've got to do to make sure that we move on and advance."

The Celtics have accomplished another goal in their playoff journey, sweeping the Pacers thanks to a true team effort that included clutch moments from the entire starting five of Tatum, Brown, Jrue Holiday, Derrick White and Al Horford. Brown's recognition as East Finals MVP was well-deserved, but the strength of this C's team is in its collective group, which is four more wins away from raising Banner 18.

The NBA Finals begin June 6, with Boston taking on the winner of the Dallas Mavericks and the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference Finals. The Mavs own a 3-0 series lead with the chance to complete a series sweep Tuesday night in Game 4.

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