After Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum had a tough NBA Finals, Brad Stevens had a simple message for his team’s franchise player.
“I just told him to go on vacation,” Stevens, president of Boston basketball operations, said with a smile during a video conference call with reporters after Boston ended the season with a loss to the Boston. Golden State Warriors in six games in the league championship round. “Go rest.
“This guy gave us everything he had. When you look at the minutes, when you look at the games played… I’ve said it many times: he’s a superstar who doesn’t want to sit down. He wants to play, he wants to play all the time. I thought in the final, obviously, I think he would be the first to say that he would like to have some of those moments back, but I thought there were others contributing factors to the way he played.”
The 24-year-old superstar, who was just named to the All-NBA First Team, has had an up-and-down playoff run. He finished the playoffs with the most turnovers a player had in a single playoff in NBA history, and in the Finals he shot 50% from the field once and less than 40% four times against Golden State – including just 31.6% on 2-pointers.
As a result, unsurprisingly, 2-point shooting and play were problems not just for Tatum but for the team as a whole seeing Boston fall just short of their goals. However, Stevens said that it should not be forgotten how good Tatum and Jaylen Brown have already been at this point in their careers in terms of playoff success and that the team would not have gotten to where it is. did without them.
Stevens specifically pointed to Tatum’s 46-point game on the road at Milwaukee in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals as proof of that.
“The way I’m trying to see it is, obviously, we’re all subjective in every moment and reacting emotionally, but when you start looking at it objectively and more historically, what Jayson and Jaylen did in the playoffs, historically at their age, that’s rarefied air,” Stevens said. “I think we’re very aware that while Jayson certainly wouldn’t have played his best streak, there’s no way we’re here without him and all of his great play throughout.
“I think back to all the times… Game 6 in Milwaukee was one of the best games I’ve seen an individual play in my time, certainly in person and with the Celtics. Without that performance, we would have had this discussion. a month and a half ago.”
By “this discussion,” Stevens was referring to how Boston failed in this playoff and what the Celtics need to do in terms of improvement. The two areas he distinguished? More consistent bench scoring and play across the entire roster.
That said, Stevens was quick to point out that the Celtics have been able to go as far as they have this season thanks to a unique combination of size and versatility across the board — and that, as Boston seeks To improve this summer, the Celtics need to stay aware of those strengths and not take them away to improve other things about the team.
“I think we have to walk a bit of a fine line,” Stevens said. “I think teams are fragile. I think the way teams work together and function together is fragile. And I think your identity as a team, when you find one that’s successful, which we’ve done this year on the defensive side of the pitch and when we were at our best sharing the ball offensively, those things are fragile, so just adding doesn’t mean you’re not taking anything away from the group.
He went on to say that no Celtics player – including Robert Williams III, who suffered from left knee pain throughout the playoffs – will need surgery, saying rest will be enough for Williams and everyone else on the roster to bounce back from a grueling playoff series that saw Boston play 24 of a possible 28 games.