Jaylen Brown Nearly Assured of Being Named NBA Finals MVP

Former Cal star Brown made all the big plays in the Celtics' win in Game 3, and has been consistently productive all series
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) reacts to the crowd during the fourth quarter on Wednesday
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) reacts to the crowd during the fourth quarter on Wednesday / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Former Cal star Jaylen Brown, always playing a close second fiddle to Jayson Tatum, has risen above everyone in the NBA Finals.

Unless something strange happens in Game 4 or any possible subsequent games, Brown will be the NBA Finals MVP.

After Brown collected 30 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the Celtics’ 106-99 victory over the Mavericks on Wednesday in Dallas to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, ABC play-by-play announcer Mike Breen said this of Brown: “He’s had the biggest games of his life in the biggest games of his life.”

Brown has averaged 24.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists in the three finals games, while Tatum, the only other contender for finals MVP, is averaging 21.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists. 

But three things set Brown apart:

---Brown has scored at least 20 points in each of the three games; Tatum has scored more than 20 just once.

---Brown has made more than half his shots in each of the three games, while Tatum has shot less than 50% in every game.

---Brown made the difference in Game 3, which was the only closely contested game of the series.

He scored just six points in the first half on Wednesday, when Dallas took a one-point halftime lead.  But Brown scored 15 points in the third quarter when the Celtics took control and carried a 21-point lead early in the fourth quarter. 

Then, when Dallas made its run in the fourth quarter, Brown made the two biggest buckets of the game. With Dallas trailing by just one point with 3:08 remaining, Brown grabbed an offensive rebound and put in a follow shot to make it a three-point game. When the Mavericks got the deficit down to two points with 1:20 to go, Brown responded with a difficult 20-foot jumper under defensive pressure to push the margin to four points with 1:01 to play.  That shot essentially clinched the series for Boston.

Despite all that good work and his 24-second-half points, the play that will be remembered and shown on countless highlight clips was Brown’s charge down the lane that resulted in a thunderous dunk with seven second left in the third quarter.

This series is essentially over, and the competition for NBA Finals MVP is essentially over as well. That being said, we should remember three things:

-– Dallas head coach Jason Kidd, a former Cal star, said earlier in the series that Tatum was Boston’s best player.

--- Brown was not on the first-team, second-team or third-team all-NBA team this season.

--- Brown was the MVP of the Eastern Conference finals series.

If Brown is named finals MVP he would be the first former Cal player to win that award, which has been given out every year since 1969, when Jerry West won that award.

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Jake Curtis

JAKE CURTIS

Jake Curtis worked in the San Francisco Chronicle sports department for 27 years, covering virtually every sport, including numerous Final Fours, several college football national championship games, an NBA Finals, world championship boxing matches and a World Cup. He was a Cal beat writer for many of those years, and won awards for his feature stories.