Celtics

Jayson Tatum is not your average playoff rookie

Jayson Tatum is not your average playoff rookie

BOSTON – It was Jayson Tatum’s first playoff game on Sunday, a time when even the most level-headed rookies might be feeling some anxiety/anxiousness/nerves.

But as we’ve seen all season, Tatum is not your run-of-the-mill first-year player.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that in the most important game of his still-young NBA career, Tatum’s demeanor in Game No. 83 wasn’t any different than No. 23.

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And his play in Game 1 of Boston’s first-round series with the Milwaukee Bucks, would prove to be one of the keys as the Celtics squeaked out a 113-107 overtime win.

Tatum had quite the playoff debut for Boston, tallying a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds to go with four assists.

He became just the third rookie in franchise history to tally a double-double in his first playoff game, joining NBC Sports Boston basketball analyst Tommy Heinsohn and fellow Hall of Famer Bill Russell.

“It was a lot of fun,” Tatum said of his first postseason game. “I’ve always dreamed of this moment, playing in my first playoff game. It helped we were at home and we had our home crowd behind us and we got the first win.”

Tatum gave the fans a lot to cheer about as he opened the game by making his first four field goal attempts.

But as the game wore on, his Midas touch began to fade as the Bucks became more physical which in hindsight was among the many takeaways from his first playoff game.

Tatum wasn’t surprised.

"Nobody wants to lose, especially Game 1,” he said. “So everybody was giving it their all.”

And while Al Horford’s all-around game (24 points, 12 rebounds) stood out, as did Terry Rozier’s clutch shooting in the fourth quarter and his scoring in overtime and for the game overall (23 points), Tatum had his shining moments as well.

With neither team showing signs of taking control in overtime, Boston took a 106-105 lead with 2:10 to play.

They would get the ball back with a chance to take their biggest lead of the extra session, and it was Tatum delivering with a driving lay-up that gave Boston a 108-105 lead with 1:22 to play that turned out to be the game-winning basket.

Delivering big shots in big moments was nothing new to Tatum or the Celtics, which is why neither felt him being in his first playoff game would factor in his play.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens repeatedly told media leading up to Sunday’s game, that he anticipated Tatum would play well.

“Well I can say we expect it, because he’s shown it all year,” Stevens said.

Tatum did a lot of things well, but he made some mistakes too that at the time, were huge gaffes on his part.

None appeared to be bigger than the errant pass he made with 41.2 seconds to play in overtime that gave the Bucks the ball trailing 108-106 at the time.

Milwaukee had multiple chances to tie the game or take the lead, but among the key plays by Tatum was blocking the shot of Malcolm Brogdon with 27.4 seconds to play.

Moments later, Terry Rozier was fouled and made a pair of free throws with 18.8 seconds to play.

Boston had a two-possession lead, but Tatum knew the game while in hand, was definitely not over.

And that realization more than anything else, is what Tatum will take with him from Game 1 and apply towards Game 2 on Tuesday.

“It’s a long game and we understand that and both teams are playing extremely hard so it’s going to go down to the wire,” Tatum said. “That is what I really learned today; you can’t take really take plays off because ever possession matters.”

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Enes Kanter reveals plans for message on Celtics jersey in NBA bubble

Enes Kanter reveals plans for message on Celtics jersey in NBA bubble

The NBA plans to give its players a unique platform in Orlando, and Enes Kanter intends on using it.

The league and the NBA Players Association have discussed allowing players to replace the names on the back of their jerseys with personalized messages that call attention to a charitable cause or social issue.

During a recent interview with CNN Philippines, Kanter revealed the one-word message he has planned for his Boston Celtics jersey: Freedom.

That word is a fitting choice for the Turkey native, who has repeatedly criticized the country's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for repressing its citizens' freedoms. Kanter himself is banned from Turkey and has been labeled a "terrorist" by Erdogan's regime, while his father was imprisoned in Turkey until recently.

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"That freedom means so much to me, not just for my country in Turkey, not just for people in America, but throughout the whole world," Kanter said.

Kanter recently joked on Instagram that he should have "Erdogan Sucks" on the back of his jersey, but the 28-year-old wants his message to extend beyond his homeland.

"If you look at what's going on in the world right now, lots of countries, lots of people out there need their freedom, and they're fighting for it," Kanter said.

" ... My message to the whole world is, keep fighting for freedom. Keep fighting for justice. Stand for what you believe in and never back down."

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Kanter also has been an advocate for social change in the United States, attending a "Black Lives Matter" rally in Boston last month to protest racial inequality and police brutality following the murder of George Floyd.

The NBA and the NBPA are still ironing out the details of their jersey initiative as the league prepares to resume the 2019-20 season later this month. But it should surprise no one that Kanter already has a plan in place.

Jaylen Brown shares how Kevin Garnett motivated 2017 Celtics with colorful voice memos

Jaylen Brown shares how Kevin Garnett motivated 2017 Celtics with colorful voice memos

Kevin Garnett's impact on the Boston Celtics didn't stop when he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets just over seven years ago.

The ex-Celtics big man also is one of the NBA's greatest motivators who continued to check up on his former team after leaving Boston.

Jaylen Brown certainly can attest to that. During an interview with ESPN's Ros Gold-Onwude, Brown explained how KG would send voice memos to the team during the season, often with strongly-worded (and NSFW) messages. 

One of those messages came during Brown's rookie season in 2016-17, when Garnett chewed out the young wing for displaying poor body language.

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"I was at the end of the bench with my head down," Brown said, "and he sent a voice message through my strength coach over the phone like, 'You better pick your mother------- head up!'

"He was cursing me out. He was like, 'You've got to carry yourself a certain way.' So, he told me to pick my head up and fix my body language, right the f--- now."

Brown took KG's colorful message to heart and has blossomed into a confident two-way star for Boston in his fourth season.

The 23-year-old also recalled the poignant voice memo Garnett sent the Celtics during their 2017 first-round playoff matchup with the Bulls. Boston trailed 2-0 to No. 8 seed Chicago and was reeling from the tragic death of Isaiah Thomas' sister, Chyna.

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"He spoke so much life into our team," Brown said. " ... It was probably the most OG message you will ever hear in your entire life. It was dope.

"I remember him saying, 'There's two ways you can go. Either you can go backward or go forward. I feel everybody's emotions. Channel it out there and hit them in the mouth.' "

The Celtics did just that, winning four straight games to win the series and rallying behind Thomas to reach the Eastern Conference Finals.

So, when Garnett's number gets raised to the TD Garden rafters in the near future, remember that his legacy with the Celtics goes far beyond his on-court performance.