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Celtics stars united as Kidd comment stirs debate

Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, left, and Jayson Tatum jump before the basketball team’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The Boston Celtics, coming off an authorized Game 1 win over Dallas in the NBA Finals, aren’t about to let Mavericks coach Jason Kidd get in their heads heading into Game 2.

In comments widely interpreted as an attempt to sow discord within the Celtics ranks, Kidd twice told reporters Saturday that Jaylen Brown is Boston’s “best” player, but Brown and fellow star Jayson Tatum didn’t bite.

“There’s no reaction,” Tatum said as the teams spoke to reporters before Sunday’s second game in Boston. “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 about a lot of guys.

“We have all contributed to getting to where we are 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.

READ: NBA Finals: Mavericks plan to have Celtics fight each other

“We’ve been in this position for many years, where guys tried to split us up and say one of us should be traded or one of us is better than the other. So it’s not our first time at the rodeo.”

Brown led Boston’s scoring with 22 points and was dominant on the defensive end in Thursday’s 107-89 victory.

“Jaylen is their best player,” Kidd said when asked about the difficulty of containing him. “Just looking at what he does defensively, he picked Luka (Doncic) all over the court. He got to the free throw line. He did it all and that’s what your best player does. I just understand that he plays on both sides, defense and offense, at a high pace. And he’s been doing that all through the playoffs.”

Brown and Tatum are familiar with the question of who is the team’s top star, long a favorite topic of media debate.

As always, Brown said, the Celtics are ignoring this, although this time it’s coming from a coach whose three trips to the NBA Finals as a player included a championship with Dallas in 2011.

READ: NBA Finals: Celtics formula leaves Mavericks searching for a solution

“We’ve been extremely focused on what our roles and our jobs are,” Brown said.

“We have all had to sacrifice. Jason (Kidd) has had to do that at the highest levels, right, and I respect that and lean toward that.

“Right now, at this point, it’s whatever it takes to win and we can’t let any outside interpretation try to come between us.”

Instead, Brown said, the Celtics are focused on finding more ways to disrupt the Mavericks’ star duo of Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

“We have to be prepared because they are really good after a loss,” Brown said.

That’s exactly what Kidd is counting on.

“I don’t think there’s any panic in this group,” Kidd said. “We didn’t play well in the first game… but it’s a series and we’re not looking to capitalize on just one game.

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“We think we can respond in the second game.”



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