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Jaylen Brown named MVP of Eastern Conference Finals

BOSTON -- Jaylen Brown was nearly unstoppable during the Eastern Conference Finals, leading the Celtics to a sweep of the Indiana Pacers and back to the NBA Finals. He hit clutch shots, dished out key assists, and locked down on defense for Boston, and now has a new trophy for his mantle.

After dropping 29 points on the Pacers in Boston's comeback win in Game 4, including 10 points in the fourth quarter, Brown was named MVP of the Eastern Conference Finals. He had a stunned look on his face when he heard his name and was mobbed by teammates as he accepted the Larry Bird Trophy at the podium inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indiana.

Brown just beat out teammate Jayson Tatum for the honor, securing five votes to Tatum's four

"I wasn't expecting that at all," Brown said after the game. "I never win [expletive]. I'm just happy we won."

Brown is fresh off being snubbed for an All-NBA team after his most efficient season in the league. He also didn't make an All-Defensive team despite his stellar play on that end of the floor while consistently guarding the other team's best player. He said the All-Defensive snub burned him more than not getting any All-NBA recognition.

"I think I'm one of the best two-way wings/guards in this game," said Brown. "I feel like I should have been All-Defensive, and that hurt me the most. That's something I set out to do this season and wanted to be. But I stopped caring and I just embrace it. I don't care who sees what, as long as my team, my city and my family see my value."

Boston fans certainly see Brown's value, though they're likely hoping that the NBA continues to snub Brown. While it irritates him, it also brings out the best in him on the floor.

Brown was absolutely money for the Celtics in the Conference Finals, averaging 29.8 points off 51.7 percent shooting throughout the series. He added 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game for Boston.

The series started with the Pacers nearly stealing Game 1 in Boston, but Brown hit a game-tying three with 5.7 seconds left to bring the Celtics back. While Jayson Tatum's 10 points in overtime capped off that Game 1 victory, Brown went out and scored 40 points to lead the C's to a 126-110 win in Game 2.  He had 24 points in Boston's comeback win in Game 3 on Saturday night, and then fueled another comeback in Game 4.

While he scored 10 points in the fourth quarter on Monday, Brown's two biggest plays down the stretch didn't involve putting the ball in the hoop. He blocked Andrew Nembhard with 1:04 on the clock to keep the game tied 102-102, and then made an incredible read to find Derrick White in the corner for the go-ahead, game-winning three with 44 seconds left.

"He's unreal," White said of Brown. "I knew he was unreal when I got here, but the great thing about JB is he's gotten better every single year he's been in this league. That's a testament to his hard work and dedication. He was unreal this whole series on both sides of the ball, a complete player that you don't really see these days."

"You can't shake him," head coach Joe Mazzulla said. "He has a great short-term memory, if he misses a shot it never effects the next one. I love his poise and his ability to attack. He just makes plays. Not being defined by scoring. It was a hell of a pass and I had full faith he was going to make that read. It was a great read."

Brown felt plenty of pressure heading into this season after signing the richest contract in NBA history over the summer. But he not only brought his game to a new level in his eighth NBA season, he also become a much more vocal leader on the floor and in the locker room.

"We had some guys leave, so I wanted to make sure that void was filled. Marcus Smart, one of my brothers, was traded and was one of the voices of our team. When he wasn't here I wanted to make sure I stepped in and everyone felt me and knew what the standard is," said Brown. "We didn't skip steps all season; I felt like we played every game the right way, held everyone accountable, and this is the byproduct."

Now Brown and the Celtics are back in the NBA Finals for the second time in three years. This has been building for the team all year, and now it's time to finish the job.

With over a week off until the Finals, Brown's doubters will find something to nitpick about his incredible Eastern Conference Finals. As always, Brown says bring it on.

"You just embrace it. I'm at that phase of my life where I embrace forms of negativity," he said. "Some stuff I don't understand, but I know who I am and what I stand for. Sometimes it makes people uncomfortable and sometimes I miss out on things, opportunities, awards, marketing deals. At this point, I just embrace it. I am who I am and I'm going to stand on my beliefs. I will die for what I believe in.

"I'm grateful to be able to be in this position, and the energy is about to shift," Brown added.

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