Tatum, Brown prove resilient chemistry with Celtics seizing NBA throne

Alder Almo - Philstar.com
Tatum, Brown prove resilient chemistry with Celtics seizing NBA throne
It was Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown's mutual respect that allowed the Celtics to finally get over the hump, silencing critics who have been pushing to break them up.
Adam Glanzman / Getty Images / AFP

BOSTON – There was no debate the Boston Celtics are the best team this season, punctuating their dominant run with a decisive 106-88 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the 2024 NBA Finals on Monday night (Tuesday Manila time) at the TD Garden. 

As the clock ticked to the final moments of their championship-clinching victory, the only left up for debate was: Who was the Celtics’ best player?

Jayson Tatum delivered a virtuoso performance as he led the Celtics’ charge with 31 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds in a near triple-double with two steals. 

Only it was not enough to capture the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy. 

Jaylen Brown, his overlooked teammate in the regular season, upstaged him once again. 

Brown barely edged Tatum for the Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals MVP via a slim 5-4 voting. In the Finals, he was the runaway choice, receiving seven of the 11 media votes. 

It was Brown’s defense and efficiency that separated him from Tatum in the Finals. 

Tatum, however, did not let the individual accolades wedge a divide and steal the joy of what they had accomplished as a team.

“First of all, congrats to him,” Tatum said after the Celtics captured their 18th NBA title with a 106-88 victory in Game 5 on Monday night (Tuesday Manila time). “Well-deserved. Extremely happy for him. This is a hell of an accomplishment. The main goal for us was to win a championship. We weren't — we didn't care who got Finals MVP. I know that I need him through this journey and he needs me.

So, you know, it was great to see him have that moment and share that moment with him. I'm extremely happy for him. Well-deserved. That was big-time. He earned that.”
Brown, who acknowledged Tatum during his acceptance speech for the Finals MVP trophy, returned the compliment during his post-game press conference. 

“You know, it could have gone to anybody,” Brown said. “It could have gone to Jayson. I can't talk enough about his selflessness. I can't talk enough about his attitude. It's just how he approached not just this series or the Finals but just the playoffs in general. And we did it together as a team, and that was the most important thing.”

It was their mutual respect that allowed the Celtics to finally get over the hump, silencing critics who have been pushing to break them up. 

“Just our growth together,” Brown said. “We've been through a lot. We've been playing together for seven years now. We've been through a lot, the losses, the expectations. The media have said all different types of things: We can't play together, we are never going to win.

We heard it all. But we just blocked it out, and we just kept going. I trusted him. He trusted me. And we did it together. To get to this point and share that experience with JT is just awesome, you know what I mean? It's amazing, and it feels great.”

Brown was neither in the regular season MVP conversation nor any of the All-NBA Teams. But he delivered when it mattered the most. 

The 27-year-old Brown capped his remarkable Finals run with 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists. He averaged 20.8 points on 44% shooting, 5.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.6 steals in five games against the Mavericks. 

The 26-year-old Tatum averaged 22.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists but only shot 38.8% from the field. 

Both at the prime of their careers, Tatum and Brown could join the legendary duo of Larry Bird and Kevin McHale in Celtics lore if they continue to bring championships to Boston. 

“I think we have an opportunity. I think we definitely have a window,” Brown said. “We take it one day at a time. We definitely have to make sure we stay healthy. But, you know, we'll enjoy the summer, enjoy the moment, and then we get right back to it next year.”



Alder Almo is a former senior sportswriter for Philstar.com and NBA.com Philippines. He is now based in Jersey City, New Jersey, and writes for the New York-based website Heavy.com.

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