Celtics

Four annoyingly positive thoughts on the end of the Celtics season

Four annoyingly positive thoughts on the end of the Celtics season

Some miscellaneous thoughts on the end of the Celtics season as the takes begin to blossom: 

THE CELTICS DIDN'T 'BLOW A FOURTH-QUARTER LEAD' IN GAME 7

Well, yes, they technically did, but shut up. They didn't. It was going back and forth and they led by one score twice, and both times it was negated the following Cavs possession. The lead they blew was the 12-point first-half lead, not the fourth-quarter "lead." 

MARCUS SMART GOT THEM THERE

There's no easier target after being eliminated because your team took (and missed) too many 3's than Marcus Smart. He was 0-for-4 in Game 7. Duh. He stinks at shooting. Fans are also rubbed the wrong way by him talking contract after a loss like that. 

Here's the thing, though: You don't get out of the first round without Marcus Smart, who came back in Game 5 of the Bucks series and helped the C's win two of the next three. Yes, they won all of their home games for the first two rounds, but at the time Smart returned, all the Celtics were was an inexperienced playoff team that had just dropped two straight games and risked letting the series slip away. 

We probably take for granted just how good Jayson Tatum got over the course of that playoff run, but we wouldn't have seen that growth if the run ends in the first round. 

JAYLEN BROWN WILL NEVER MESS ANYTHING UP EVER AGAIN

It's not being smart that makes Jaylen Brown a potentially special player. Not to downplay Brown's intelligence, but lots of people are smart. What makes Brown seem special is that he doesn't seem like a guy who wastes his time. He's smart, so he was into academia. He's talented, so he works at his game. 

You have to think that Brown will be relentless this postseason after turning in a Game 7 failure. Ditto for the free throws. He stunk at those this season. Brown seems like a player who doesn't like staying bad at things. 

THE JAYSON TATUM STORY ARC IS HILARIOUS

The Celtics went from "why did you trade down from No. 1 to No. 3 in a two-player draft?" to "if only they gave the ball to their best player, Jayson Tatum, they would have been in the NBA Finals." 

No clue what happens minutes-wise when Gordon Hayward comes back, but the Celtics entered this season with three stars (Kyrie Irving, Hayward and Al Horford) and some promising young players. They legitimately have at least four going into next season, and that's not counting the progress that Brown, who was the best player on the floor at points during the postseason, will make. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Why Jaylen Brown's reaction to Jayson Tatum's strong play should thrill Celtics fans

Why Jaylen Brown's reaction to Jayson Tatum's strong play should thrill Celtics fans

The Boston Celtics' 2018-19 season got derailed in part because there were too many mouths to feed.

You could argue the same scenario is possible on the 2019-20 Celtics: With Jayson Tatum blossoming into a superstar alongside established All-Stars Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward, a young talent like Jaylen Brown may get overlooked.

But that scenario doesn't seem possible -- because Brown refuses to let it happen.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Here's the 23-year-old wing after Tatum went off for 36 points in Tuesday's 118-106 win over the Portland Trail Blazers:

"You’ve got to want for your brother what you want for yourself," Brown told reporters. " ... He’s playing unreal. He’s playing the best ball of his career. So let’s keep going. Let’s see how we can keep feeding it to him. If he keeps making shots like that, I don’t see why not, right?"

Brown and Tatum share a close bond as No. 3 overall picks in the 2016 and 2017 NBA Drafts, respectively, both thriving during the 2018 playoffs in the absences of Hayward and Kyrie Irving.

While Brown is enjoying his own career season -- he tallied 24 points Tuesday and is averaging 20.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game -- Tatum has skyrocketed past him as an elite NBA talent who earned his first All-Star nod this season.

Yet Brown bristled at the notion that Tatum's recent success has "motivated" him to elevate his own game.

"I don’t look at it as he motivates me," Brown said, via Mass Live's Tom Westerholm. "I’m supporting him, and I think we’re on the same team so it’s not a contrast one against the other.

"I know a lot of times people try to dichotomize Jaylen. We’re on the same team. As he’s doing well, I’m doing well. If I’m doing well, he’s doing well, because we’re on the same team."

That response should be music to Celtics fans' ears after chemistry issues hastened a second-round playoff exit for last season's talented squad.

This season's Celtics are certainly benefiting from Tatum and Brown's success: Boston is 23-4 when Tatum scores 24 or more points and 15-1 when Brown drops 24 or more.

"He’s one of the biggest reasons we’ve been winning," Tatum acknowledged of Brown after the game.

Tatum and Brown's ability to thrive together is a big reason why the Celtics own the NBA's fourth-best record.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Jazz, which begins Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

Carmelo Anthony gushes about Jayson Tatum, swaps jerseys with Celtics star

Carmelo Anthony gushes about Jayson Tatum, swaps jerseys with Celtics star

Here's another perk of Jayson Tatum's ascent to stardom: He's earning the admiration of the players he once idolized.

On Sunday, it was Lakers superstar LeBron James, who called Tatum an "absolute problem" after the Boston Celtics forward dropped 41 points on Los Angeles.

On Tuesday, it was another 2003 NBA Draft alum in Carmelo Anthony, who swapped jerseys with Tatum after the 21-year-old exploded for 36 points in Boston's 118-106 win in Portland.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

"Oh man, Melo is, besides Kobe (Bryant), probably one of my top three favorite players," Tatum after the jersey swap, via NBC Sports Northwest's Jamie Hudson. "I studied him so much growing up and I’m one of his biggest fans. ... I really looked up to him."

Tatum, who was five years old when Anthony entered the league, spent time with the 10-time All-Star this summer at a Jordan Brand event in Paris.

Anthony was a fan of Tatum then. Needless to say, he's become an even bigger fan after watching the third-year forward morph into an elite player.

"He's like a little brother to me," Anthony said. "I love him. He’s a guy that’s establishing himself, as we’re all witnessing, all watching. I mean, I love his game, I love watching him play.

"I was able to have some one-on-one time with him, get a chance to know him better as a person first, but his game speaks for itself and it’ll continue to blossom."

The 35-year-old also seemed pleased Tatum held him in such high regard after seeking him out for a jersey swap.

"It makes me kind of appreciate what I do," Anthony said. "For guys to acknowledge that and see that and watch that and want to learn from that, for me, that’s what it’s all about."

Click here to listen and subscribe to The Enes Kanter Show:

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Jazz, which begins Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.