Jaylen Brown believes the Boston Celtics will represent the Eastern Conference in the 2019 NBA Finals.
During an appearance on CJ McCollum‘s “Pull Up” podcast released Wednesday, Brown expressed confidence when asked by the Portland Trail Blazers guard whether he believes Boston will get to the Finals after LeBron James‘ departure from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“Oh, we’re getting to the Finals. No question about it,” Brown said.
But Brown did take umbrage with the suggestion that Boston is set to ascend only because of James’ departure.
“I hate how everybody is like, ‘Oh, LeBron’s gone in the East,’” Brown said. “I know he did have a strong hold on the East for the last seven years, but he barely got us out of there this year. And our mindset was like, ‘Man, he’s not beating us again.’”
James and his former Cavs squad rallied from a 3-2 deficit to defeat Boston in seven games in the East finals this past season. It was James’ eighth straight year taking an Eastern team to the Finals. James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer.
Brown admitted that, regardless of heightened expectations, the Celtics need to prove themselves again this season. Getting back a healthy Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving should help that cause. Brown is bullish on Boston’s chances to claim the conference crown with the right approach.
“It’s important for us to stay grounded and just continue to play ball. Continue to play the way we played this past season,” Brown said.
Later he added: “We got like a lot of — we got a lot, a lot of talent on this team. And we’ve got some real good mindsets, and it’s a pleasure playing with them all. But we have to be on one page if we want to be successful.”
Brown averaged 18 points per game during Boston’s playoff run. Despite being decimated by injuries, the Celtics surged to the cusp of the Finals thanks in large part to the contributions of 21-year-old Brown and 20-year-old rookie Jayson Tatum.
Boston re-signed both Aron Baynes and Marcus Smart this summer, essentially bringing back the same core from last season (first-round pick Robert Williams and European import Brad Wanamaker replace Greg Monroe and Shane Larkin at the end of Boston’s bench).
Brown isn’t the only Celtics player with hopes for another deep playoff run. Second-year big man Daniel Theis, who missed the playoffs after knee surgery, hinted at a Finals appearance as well on Wednesday.
“I hope we play in June with this team,” Theis said at a Celtics community event at their new training facility. “I think it’s possible, but it’s a long season. I think we’re all excited for training camp and then for the first game on [Oct.] 16. … It’s going to be fun.”