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Jason Kidd on Celtics, 'Well, Jaleyn [Brown] is their best player' - NBC Sports

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2024 NBA Finals - Dallas Mavericks v Boston Celtics

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 6: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics looks on before the game against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals on June 6, 2024 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2024 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

BOSTON — Jason Kidd knows what he’s doing. He’s not throwing red meat out to the media on accident. Especially not comments that would force the Celtics to revisit an issue they thought they were well past.

“Well, Jaylen is their best player, Kidd responded when asked about defending Brown.

“So 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. He plays both sides defense and offense at a high high rate and he’s been doing that the whole playoffs and you talk about the Easter Conference [Finals] MVP. And it seems like he’s continued to pick up where he left off. So he’s playing at a high rate. We just got to be a little bit more physical with him. And again, we got to keep him off the free throw line and out of the paint, because again, is finishing at a high rate or he was getting fouled and getting to the free throw line.”

The Celtics’ reaction?

“No reaction...” Jayson Tatum said. “This is a team sport, right. We understand that. 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 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 rodeo.”

“J Kidd, man, I see what he’s doing. I see what he’s doing,” was Al Horford seeing through the ruse.

Two things can be true. The comment is clearly some gamesmanship from Kidd to try to open an old wound in the Boston locker room, and he can be right, at least in the short term.

Brown was the Celtics’ best player in their Game 1 win (although Kristaps Porzingis might have a say), and he won Eastern Conference Finals MVP with good reason. Tatum has put up better counting stats through the Celtics’ postseason run, but Brown has been close behind while being more efficient and playing better defense. Saying Brown has been the best Celtics player in the playoffs is not crazy.

"If he plays like this, if he takes on the challenge of defending Luka the way he did... he will be Finals MVP" 😤@ChrisForsberg_ and @SIChrisMannix react to a dominant performance from Jaylen Brown in Game 1 of the NBA Finals 🍀 pic.twitter.com/YpRNV9EmKq

— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) June 7, 2024

That said, it was clearly Kidd trying to disrupt the Celtics’ rhythm any way he could by dredging up an old issue. However, it likely has zero effect on the Celtics at this point — Brown and Tatum have moved past this discussion (and the ego trip of “whose team is this?”) years ago.

“I don’t have no reaction...” Brown said when asked about it. “It’s a team game. We’re trying to focus on that, and, you know, everybody has their own opinions.”

“They can look at it however they want,” Joe Mazzulla said about how his stars should deal with the comment and ensuing discussion. “At the end of the day, what goes on in our locker room, how we communicate with each other, how we build relationships with each other and how we treat each other on and off the floor, that’s the most important thing.”

Kidd created a distraction, but if Brown is the best player on the court in Game 2 and not Luka Doncic or Kyrie Irving, it won’t matter what anyone says because Boston will be up 2-0.

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