After Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum had a rough NBA Finals, Brad Stevens had a simple message for his team’s franchise player.
“I told him to go on vacation,” Stevens, Boston’s president of basketball operations, said with a smile during a video conference call with reporters after Boston’s season ended with a loss to the Golden State Warriors in six games at the league championship round. “Go get some 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. the finals, 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 other factors that contributed to the way he played.”
The 24-year-old superstar, fresh from being named to the All-NBA First Team, had an up-and-down playoff run. He finished the postseason with the most turnovers of any player in a single postseason in NBA history, and in the Finals he shot 50% from the field once and under 40% four times against Golden State , including 31.6% in two shots. -point shots
As a result, unsurprisingly, both 2-point shooting and playmaking were issues not just for Tatum but for the entire team as they watched Boston fall short of their targets. However, Stevens said it should be remembered how good both Tatum and Jaylen Brown have been to this point in their careers in terms of postseason success and that the team wouldn’t have gotten to where it is without them.
Stevens specifically pointed to Tatum’s 46-point road game at Milwaukee in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals as proof of that.
“The way I try to look at 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 have done in the playoffs, historically in their ages, it’s rarefied air,” Stevens said. “I think we’re very cognizant of the fact that while Jayson certainly wouldn’t have played the best drive from him, there’s no chance we’d be there without him and all the great play from him at all times.
“I think of all the moments … 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 fell short in these playoffs and what the Celtics need to do in terms of improvement. The two areas that he highlighted? Most consistent bench scoring and plays across the entire roster.
That said, Stevens was equally quick to point out that the Celtics were able to get as far as they did this season thanks to a unique combination of size and versatility across the board, and that as Boston looks to improve this summer, the Celtics must be aware of those strengths and not detract from them to improve other things in the team.
“I think we have to walk a fine line a little bit,” Stevens said. “I think teams are fragile. I think the way teams work together and operate together is fragile. And I think your identity as a team, when you find one that’s successful, we did it this year on the defensive end of the floor. 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 something away from the group.”
He went on to say that no Celtics player, including Robert Williams III, who dealt with sore left knee during the playoffs, will require surgery, saying the break will be enough for Williams and everyone else on the roster to recover from a grueling playoff streak that saw Boston play 24 of a possible 28 games.