For Jaylen Brown, the NBA Finals is a bit of a homecoming | Sports News


By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Basketball Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Jaylen Brown starts the NBA Finals on the road. Except it might feel like a homecoming for him, in many ways.

Brown plays for the Boston Celtics, who will visit the Golden State Warriors for Games 1 and 2 of the NBA Finals, which begin Thursday night. Brown played his year of college basketball just across the bay from San Francisco in Cal.

If that wasn’t enough, one of his teammates with the Bears that season was Nick Kerr, the son of Golden State coach Steve Kerr. All of this played a role in Brown’s introduction to the NBA.

“Watch, learn, study,” Brown said. “Being here at Cal, at Berkeley, going to a lot of games. To be on the ground. … Long before I got to the NBA or before I got to the NBA, I was able to talk to these guys.

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Now here he is, playing the Warriors for a title.

Golden State’s Klay Thompson can relate. He grew up as a Los Angeles Lakers fan, which means he’s basically bound to have a certain disdain for the Celtics. And when he was a rookie, playing against a Boston team that included Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Thompson had what he calls his “welcome to the NBA” moment.

“Just a few years ago, I watched them play Kobe (Bryant) and Pau (Gasol) in the Finals, and I was fascinated by the quality of those teams, both the Lakers and the Celtics,” Thompson said. “So life comes full circle, now being able to play them in the final.”

For the record, Thompson was not dazzled that first night against Boston. In that game, he led the Warriors with 26 points – although Boston won 105-103.

Steve Kerr, like Thompson, is a California kid. He was in the last row of seats on the Old Forum’s upper deck for one of those Lakers-Celtics final clashes, the mystique of it all didn’t escape him.

“Some of my favorite memories as a player were playing at Boston Garden,” Kerr said. “I remember starting a game early in my career – we had a few guys hurt – and going out on half court and bumping my fists. Larry Bird actually said, “Good luck, Steve.” I was like, ‘You too, Larry.’ I was like, ‘What’s going on right now?’ It was surreal.

Kerr had 10 points and eight assists that night for Phoenix. Bird had 29 and the Celtics won.

The bonds between the teams even extend to the property. Warriors co-executive chairman and chief executive Joe Lacob grew up in Massachusetts and was a minority owner of the Celtics for five years — including the 2008 title year — before buying the Warriors.

“I grew up in the ’60s in a place called New Bedford, Massachusetts, until I was about 13,” Lacob said. “And you know, I was listening with a transistor radio next to my ear to the Celtics and Sam Jones and KC Jones and John Havlicek and all those guys, Bill Russell. So he definitely has a place in my memory banks and in my heart.”

Golden State could achieve a rarity: win the NBA championship after failing to win its division.

Each of the last 10 NBA champions also won their division that season; the last non-winner in the division to claim the title was Dallas in 2011.

The Warriors finished 11 games behind Phoenix in the Pacific Division this season.

Boston could keep the division champion streak alive. The Celtics are tied for the Atlantic Division title.

This could bode well for the Warriors.

Just like last season, the NBA Finals has a No. 2 seed (Boston) facing a No. 3 seed (Golden State). A 2-on-3 matchup has occurred four more times in the Finals since the NBA moved to its current playoff format in 1984.

And all four times the No. 3 beat the No. 2. Milwaukee did it against Phoenix last year, Dallas against Miami in 2011, San Antonio against Cleveland in 2007 and Detroit against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004. .

There are no first-time NBA Finals referees in the 12-field who have been chosen to work this series.

All 12 – Tony Brothers, James Capers, Marc Davis, Kane Fitzgerald, Scott Foster, John Goble, David Guthrie, Courtney Kirkland, Eric Lewis, Josh Tiven, James Williams and Zach Zarba – have done it at least once.

Foster refereed 22 NBA Finals games. Davis will work his 17th Thursday night, the second of the group, followed by Capers and Brothers at 13 apiece.

Picked to work with Davis for Game 1: Goble and Williams.

More than half of the players on the Boston and Golden State rosters have G League experience.

Celtics coach Ime Udoka played in the G League – it was then called the NBA Development League – and two of his assistants are former G League head coaches; Both Joe Mazzulla and Aaron Miles have risen through the ranks. Udoka and Miles were teammates 17 years ago with the Fort Worth Flyers.

Warriors guard Gary Payton II was part of a G League title run in 2019 and was the G Defensive Player of the Year last season.

The (then Philadelphia) Warriors and Celtics are two of the league’s original franchises, making this game seem like a fitting end to the league’s 75th anniversary season.

The Warriors won the league’s first title, beating the Chicago Stags in five games for the inaugural Basketball Association of America title. The BAA was renamed the NBA after three seasons.

If Golden State wins that NBA title, the Payton family gets another ring and joins a tiny club.

Gary Payton won an NBA championship with the Miami Heat in 2006; his son Gary Payton II plays for the Warriors, who are four wins away from this season’s title.

The other father-son duos to have won rings as players, according to the NBA: Mychal Thompson and Klay Thompson of the Warriors; Bill Walton and Luke Walton; Rick Barry and Brent Barry; and Matt Guokas Sr. and Matt Guokas Jr.

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