After losing in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat last season, the Boston Celtics have to be itching to get back on the court to start the 2023-24 NBA season.
They have possessed one of the league’s most talented teams for the last few years behind stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, yet they haven’t won a world championship yet.
They will get another crack at ring No. 18 once training camp starts, and if they are to win it all, Tatum will have to lead the way.
Paul Pierce, the former star forward for the Celtics, said he had a chance to watch Tatum in the lab, and he said the 25-year-old is one of the game’s top-five players, via Chris Forsberg on Twitter.
“It’s an honor just to be there and see him go through his journey … He’s already at the top of the food chain. I’m just part of a support system.”
— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) September 19, 2023
Last season, Tatum averaged a career-high 30.1 points a game and earned his fourth consecutive All-Star selection while also being named to the All-NBA First Team for the second time.
His ability to hit contested shots from long distance with a defender in his face is remarkable, and that ability is reminiscent of late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, whom Tatum considers a mentor.
But Tatum still has some growth to do, especially when it comes to playing up to his ability on the big stage.
In last season’s Eastern Conference Finals, Boston battled back from a 3-0 series deficit to force a Game 7 at home, and even though they seemingly had everything going in their favor, they lost by 19 points as he scored just 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting.
The previous year, he played very poorly in the NBA Finals as the Celtics lost in six games to the Golden State Warriors.
If Tatum wants to truly become a Celtics legend, he must consistently raise his game when the stakes are highest, much as Pierce did back in the 2000s.
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