A Week With Harry Potter Prepped Jaylen Brown For NBA Finals

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd calls Brown - not Jayson Tatum - the Celtics' best player
Jaylen Brown blocks Derrick Jones Jr.'s shoat the rim,
Jaylen Brown blocks Derrick Jones Jr.'s shoat the rim, / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The results of Game 1 of the NBA Finals suggest that one-time Cal standout Jaylen Brown made good choices on how to spend his time during the week-and-a-half wait for the series to begin.

“A lot of our guys probably spend time with their family,” Brown told Good Morning America on Friday. “But I don't have a family. I’m single. So I've been binge-watching Harry Potter.”

Brown was brilliant the night before in the Boston Celtics’ 107-89 rout of the Dallas Mavericks. He led the Celtics with 22 points on 7-for-12 shooting, but also contributed six rebounds, three blocked shots (all in a decisive third quarter), three steals and two assists.

For Brown, setting a tone in Game 1 was important.

Brown feels a special kinship with the Harry Potter character Hermoine Granger, portrayed in the films by Emma Watson. 

“Sure, she’s the smart one, which was the knock on Brown coming out of Cal, but that's not it,” the Boston Sports Journal wrote.

“She's also the one that just keeps everybody on track. She's the one that gets stuff done, too,” Brown said told Good Morning America. “That's me. Like, ‘we gotta get this done, I'm not waiting to the last minute.’ You got an assignment, we’re gonna get it done on the first day. We're not gonna wait to the last minute.”

Brown seemingly has played with extra motivation the past two weeks since the All-NBA teams were announced and he was not included on any of the three squads. In four games since, Brown has averaged 28.8 points on 53-percent shooting, 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.3 blocks.

His performance in the Eastern Conference finals was rewarded with the Larry Bird MVP trophy.

“Jaylen is the kind of guy that just works hard, has a chip on his shoulder,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. “I enjoy watching him when he works. He has a huge growth mindset and he's going to look to dig deep into weaknesses that he wants to get better at, makes his strengths better, never skips a detail.”

Against Dallas in Game 1, he spent much of the night paired against Luka Doncic, twice stealing the ball from him for dunks and attacking relentlessly off the dribble to get to the rim. One of those drives through the lane resulted in a ferocious dunk.

Brown's performance prompted Mavericks coach -- and fellow ex-Golden Bear -- Jason Kidd to declare Brown, not Jayson Tatum, as the Celtics' best player. Asked a question about Brown during his Saturday news conference, Kidd ran with the topic.

"Well, Jaylen is their best player," Kidd said with a smile. "Just looking at what he does defensively. He picked up Luka full court. He got to the free throw line. He did everything, and that's what your best player does.

"Just understanding he plays both sides, defense and offense, at a high rate. And he's been doing that the whole playoffs. I mean, when you talk about the Eastern Conference MVP, and it seems like he has continued to pick up where he left off."

Both Brown and Tatum were asked about it later, but neither took the bait in what could have been a devisive moment for the Celtics. "I don't have no reaction," Brown said.

"This is a team sport," Tatum said. "We wouldn't be here if we didn't have JB on our team, and we can say that for a lot of guys, right. We have all played a part in getting to where we're at, and we understand that people try to drive a wedge between us. I guess it's a smart thing to do or try to do.

"We've been in this position for many of years of guys trying to divide us and say that one of us should be traded or one is better than the other. So it's not our first time at the rodeo."

It was Brown’s three blocked shots in a span of 94 seconds — helping to trigger a 14-0 run — that had Mazzula most excited.

“What you saw tonight is kind of the challenge he took for himself coming into the year, not wanting to be defined by one thing,” Mazzula said. “Usually when you give up a run and your offense gets a little stagnant, your defense goes with it. Tonight our defense kept us in it and that's really important, to have that defensive mindset. Some of those plays that Jaylen made were a part of that.”

Brown has said his biggest individual goal this season was earning a spot on the NBA’s All-Defensive team. He apparently was not happy with that snub.

Tatum has watched Brown add to his overall game throughout their time together in Boston.

“When you look at JB, he's somebody that has really worked on his craft year after year to just become a better player,” Tatum said. “I think you can tell by the way that the game has slowed down for him and the way he's making reads on the offensive end.

“That doesn't happen just overnight, it's a process. And I've seen it, I've seen the work that he puts in and watching film and things like that. So it's special to see when guys put in the work and it translates to on the court.”


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Jeff Faraudo

JEFF FARAUDO

Jeff Faraudo was a sports writer for Bay Area daily newspapers since he was 17 years old, and was the Oakland Tribune's Cal beat writer for 24 years. He covered eight Final Fours, four NBA Finals and four Summer Olympics.