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LAS VEGAS – Jaylen Brown was watching the Summer Celtics take on the New York Knicks Thursday afternoon in Las Vegas, but his mind was back in Boston in the rafters of TD Garden.
Brown, who watched the game with a Celtics contingency that included Kyrie Irving, spoke to the media at halftime of Boston’s 82-75 win over New York. While doing so, he made multiple mentions of his team’s goal for next season: to add to its record collection of 17 championships.
“We’ve got a lot of great talent on this team, with a great coach,” he confidently stated, “so we’re thinking we’re trying to raise a banner.”
Confidence clearly isn’t an issue for Brown and the Celtics, who are riding high toward next season. A team that advanced to Game 7 of the Eastern Finals is primed to return All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to the lineup. They are stacked with talent, and they are the odds-on favorites to win the Eastern Conference.
Some claim that last fact is a result of LeBron James exiting the East this summer to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. Brown takes exception to such a notion.
“I don’t like when people say, ‘Now that LeBron’s gone, now you’re the favorite,’” he said, clearly irritated by the idea. “That hurts me. A lot of us, we feel the same, because we feel like whether he was there or if he wasn’t there, we were coming.”
Brown doesn’t like the fact that he and his teammates are now forced to go around James, rather than facing him head-on during the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
“To be honest, I wanted him to stay (in Cleveland),” Brown stated. “I wanted to be the team to go through him.”
Instead, Boston will now go through the likes of Indiana, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Toronto as it aspires to capture its first berth into the Finals since 2010.
While Brown is upset about the fact that the best player in the world has moved out west, he is dedicating the majority of his attention toward what he and his teammates can do to better themselves. Brad Stevens often preaches to his players that they must “control the controllables” and only worry about themselves. That’s the mindset that Brown is taking with him as he navigates through the offseason.
“We just want to be the best team that we can be. Right now, that’s what we’re thinking,” he said. “We just want to continue to get better. We don’t know what the final roster is, so right now we’re just trying to be the best version of ourselves and bring that to the table.
“We’ve got to make sure we take care of ourselves,” he continued. “Eat healthy, and start for the long haul. We’ve got to start thinking now, rather than start thinking later.”
Clearly, Brown has already given plenty of thought to next season. He’s preparing his body and his mind to compete at the highest of levels.
For him, Game 7 of the Eastern Finals wasn’t enough. He has only one thing on his mind, and that’s Banner 18.