BOSTON — The Celtics were challenged mentally when they stepped into Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Mavericks on Sunday night.

Dallas head coach Jason Kidd sneakily referred to Jaylen Brown as Boston’s “best player,” sparking an out-of-the-blue conversation. However, taking a sly jab at an underperforming Jayson Tatum didn’t faze anyone on the Celtics when it came to the ultimate goal in Game 2: taking a 2-0 series lead.

 “I think that we responded really well,” Tatum said after Boston’s 105-98 win in Game 2. “You know, the way their defense is set up and how much they’re loading up and converging at the rim, it just puts us in positions to attack and find the easy kickout reads and just to keep the ball popping and things like that so we can get good to great shots on each and every possession.”

Tatum struggled again to get going offensively, driving to the basket and drawing 3-point plays in three of the 26-year-old’s first four field goal attempts. He finished shooting 6-of-22 from the field, including just 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. But he recorded a game-high 12 assists, and the five-time All-Star found other avenues of adding points on the board.

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Boston finished shooting 25% from 3-point range after going 3-for-15 from deep in the first half. Despite the shooting woes, the Celtics remained posied from start to finish, doing everything to keep Dallas from rallying back and going ahead.

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If anything, Kidd’s wide-driving attempt backfired.

“I just think our effort has been the key, just the mentality, picking a guy up full court, stuff like that,” Brown explained. “It just wears on them over time. But I think we need to be more crisp going into the next two games.”

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Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images