Does Paul Pierce's bold Jayson Tatum-Kevin Durant take have merit?

Jayson Tatum Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant is one of the best players in NBA history. But he hasn't been anywhere close to the best player on the floor in the Brooklyn Nets' first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics.

That title belongs to Jayson Tatum, who delivered another masterful performance in Saturday's Game 3 at the Barclays Center. Tatum scored a game-high 39 points on 13-of-29 shooting with five rebounds, six assists and a career-high six steals in the Celtics' 109-103 victory.

Celtics-Nets takeaways: Tatum outshines Brooklyn's stars in Game 3 win

How impressive has Tatum been in three games against Durant's Nets? Celtics legend Paul Pierce dropped quite the take after Boston's victory.

That's a very bold statement: Durant is widely considered a top-five NBA player, while some would put him in the top two or three. Is Tatum really at or above Durant's level already?

If we're talking about this series alone, the answer is absolutely.

Here's a look at both players' stats through three games -- all Boston wins:

Tatum: 29.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 8.0 apg, 2.3 spg, 42.9 FG%

Durant: 22.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.3 apg, 1.0 spg, 5.7 TOV, 36.5%

Tatum also has played a key role in slowing Durant with his stifling defense on the Nets star, as our Chris Forsberg pointed out after Game 2. Tatum continued that trend Saturday night, recording two of his career-high six steals on KD.


Simply put, Tatum has been an all-around superstar for Boston, shining on both ends of the floor to help the Celtics take a 3-0 series lead over a team led by Durant and Kyrie Irving.

This is only the first round of the playoffs, so we may want to hold off on crowning Tatum just yet. Durant has two NBA titles and two NBA Finals MVPs to his name, and if Tatum wants to be a truly generational talent, he may have to follow in Durant's footsteps.

But in terms of who's the most talented player in this series, it sure looks like the 24-year-old rising star has taken the torch from the 33-year-old veteran.

Note: Games 4-6 of the Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics series will be aired on NBC Sports Boston and can also be streamed on NBCSportsBoston.com or with the MyTeams App, which you can download below.

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