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Before landing with the Celtics, Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon reassessed his place in NBA

While Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 29 points in the Game 3 loss, Malcolm Brogdon (right) was the high man off the bench with 17 points.Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

ATLANTA — After three years in a secondary role with the Bucks, Malcolm Brogdon was eager for a chance to be a star after being traded to the Pacers ahead of the 2019-20 season. But Indiana had losing seasons in Brogdon’s second and third years with the club, and they made the guard reassess his view of where he stood in the NBA’s hierarchy.

“We weren’t a great team,” Brogdon said Friday before scoring 17 points in the Celtics’ 130-122 loss in Game 3 to the Hawks. “Those weren’t winning years. For me, I had to look at myself and figure out what more can I do moving forward? Whether with the Pacers or someone else, what will my role look like? Where do I need to be? What role do I need to play on a really good team?


“I knew at that point, after Indiana, I wanted to be on a really good team. It’s an ego check and also understanding who you are. I think that’s the best thing you can do in this league, especially as a young guy, but even as a vet, understand who you are and what you bring to any team, and you’ll most likely be in a good position.”

So when Brogdon was traded to the Celtics last summer, he was prepared to take on a reduced role for a team that had come within two wins of an NBA title. He came off the bench all season, helped the Celtics to 57 wins, and on Thursday was named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year.

“This group of guys has been what I thought it would be and what I wanted it to be, so I’m in a really good situation,” Brogdon said. “This team, this organization, my teammates are the biggest part of the reason I won this award. It’s a team award. Everybody’s sacrificing. We all have, I think, a bigger goal in mind. But this is recognition for me and for the group.”


Tatum takes game off line

Celtics star Jayson Tatum attempted a career-high 8.4 free throws per game during the regular season. But the forward took just two over the first two games of this series.

When asked about the surprising stat before Game 3, Tatum mostly shrugged and pointed out that 76ers guard James Harden, who has made a career out of drawing fouls, took just three over Philadelphia’s first three playoff games.

“So I guess they’re not just picking on me,” Tatum quipped. “So I understand that’s kind of how the playoffs have been going. They’ve been kind of letting guys play a little bit more, so just try to be aware of that.

“Obviously, in the moment, you’re frustrated at times. But you just got to understand that’s how they kind of officiate in the playoffs so far, and just push through.”

Tatum ended up going 7 for 9 from the line Friday on his way to scoring 29 points.

Gallinari finds ways to help

Danilo Gallinari is likely out for the year with a torn ACL, but the Celtics forward is trying to help his team’s playoff run however possible. Coach Joe Mazzulla said Gallinari, who spent his previous two seasons with the Hawks before signing with Boston last summer, has been a helpful voice in team meetings this week.

“He’s been around a lot of coaches and he’s been around a lot of playoff series,” Mazzulla said. “So he just has kind of a feel for how series go, small details he can play out because he’s been in locker rooms and played with these guys before.


“So he’s been very valuable and I really appreciate his insight and his professionalism.”

More Celtics-Hawks coverage

Shaughnessy: Celtics in Game 3, and they deserved to lose

Washburn: Celtics came to play in Game 3, they just didn’t come to rebound

Story of the game: Joe Mazzulla expected ‘a big punch’ from Hawks, and that’s exactly what Celtics were hit with

Instant analysis: What went wrong for Celtics

Box score: Hawks 130, Celtics 122

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at Follow him @adamhimmelsbach.