On Monday, the Boston Celtics completed their sweep of the Indiana Pacers to win the Eastern Conference and head back to the NBA Finals, making their second trip in just the last three seasons. They hope things can be different this time around as they lost in six games to the Golden State Warriors in 2022, where they dropped three-straight after taking a 2-1 series lead.

There’s a world of difference from that Celtic team two years ago, including a new head coach and starting point guard – even the mainstays are slightly different, which are all quite welcomed since it has gotten better.

With a league-best 64-18 record in the 2023-24 regular season, they seem more mature and poised to capture a championship than ever, as opposed to being a wide-eyed bunch that was happy just to reach the big stage.

As we’ve seen in the Pacers series, eight-year veteran Jaylen Brown isn’t an exception. He not only averaged a valuable 29.8 points and 2.0 steals on 51.7% shooting in the four games, he also beat out teammate more heralded All-Star Jayson Tatum for the Eastern Conference Finals Most Valuable Player award.

Bagging the Larry Bird trophy came as a surprise, though, even to himself:

You could see the astonishment and elation in Brown’s face as it was announced. It’s always good to see someone get rewarded for hardwork, especially when you’ve witnessed the bumpy road that led to that moment. 

Nevertheless, it’s not lost on Brown or anyone that the job is not finished, so with a shiny new acolade to keep him confident, the question now is: Can he carry the momentum into the finals?

It’s something that’s interesting to ponder on as he and the Celtics are on a road to redemption, both from the 2022 finals defeat and the East Finals loss to the 8-seeded Miami Heat last year. Also, there’s extra pressure to win it all this year considering they have sat atop the standings all season long.

While we’re about two weeks away from finding the answer to that, it should be noted that Brown has responded well from challenges as of late. First, when he signed a record-setting and eyebrow-raising $304 million-deal this past off-season–something that critics heavily hit on—he followed it up by co-leading his team into having the best record in the league. The smooth adjustment to new teammates Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis also resulted in 23.0 PPG and a career-best 49.9% shooting from the floor, as well as a third-consecutive All-Star nod.

Then, just about a week ago, when many believed he was a surefire All-NBA player due to his play, production, and team record this season, he was surprisingly passed over on the three five-man selections. When asked on his thoughts, Brown was all business and expressed how less he cared about the snub:

Looking back at it now, it seems like he got a healthy amount of motivation and just let his game do the talking – it even featured a clutch three-pointer in Game 1 of the ECF vs. the Pacers, which arguably kick-started their drive for a sweep no matter what. Here’s how his numbers have spread since the selections were announced:

Such has only raised the anticipation for the NBA Finals this June 7th (Manila time), especially since he poses many intriguing matchups. Rising to the occasion for one more series will cement his legacy and make him a beloved Celtic, where he’ll join all-time figures. This is an excellent second chance at a championship, and we are about to see what he’s really made of.