Sports Pulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt breaks down the new-look Eastern Conference which is now without LeBron James for the first time since 2003.

Jaylen Brown says there is “no question” that the Boston Celtics will make the NBA Finals in 2019.

In an episode of the “Pull Up” podcast with C.J. McCollum, the Portland Trailblazers guard asked Brown about his expectations for the Celtics in 2019 — and then, point blank, whether Boston would be in the Finals.

“Oh, we’re getting to the Finals,” Brown replied. “No question about it.”

The Celtics fell one win shy of the Finals last season, pushing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals despite playing without their two premier offseason acquisitions: Gordon Heyward and Kyrie Irving.

Brown, who averaged 19.7 points per game in the conference finals last year, said this season will be different — and not just because James is now in the Western Conference with the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I hate how everybody’s like, ‘Oh, LeBron’s gone in the East,’” Brown said on the podcast. “I know he did have a stronghold on the East for the last seven years, but he barely got up out of there this year.”

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Despite his Finals proclamation, Brown said the Celtics still realize that they need to put in the work in what he predicted will be intense, competitive practices.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if we are the favorite in the East or if we’re predicted to win 10 games in the East. You’ve got to come out and play. Simple,” Brown told McCollum on the podcast. “But at the same time, the expectation levels are there and we have expectation levels for ourselves.”

Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.


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