Celtics

Why Celtics' Jayson Tatum was 'unsure' about playing in NBA restart

Why Celtics' Jayson Tatum was 'unsure' about playing in NBA restart

Jayson Tatum is going to be part of the Boston Celtics’ contingent in Orlando, but the All-Star forward acknowledged that he’s not “excited” or “thrilled” about returning to play.

Yes, the coronavirus gave him reason to seriously consider not playing. 

The conversations throughout the country focused on racism, police brutality and systemic change were also factors that Tatum gave serious thought to. 

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But the biggest reason for him to think long and hard about not playing? 

That would be his son Deuce, who is 2 ½ years old. 

If you have tuned into a Celtics game in the past couple of years, you have at some point seen his son waddling on the court or firmly entrenched in Daddy’s arms at a post-game press conference. 

That’s why Tatum’s decision to join the Celtics in Orlando was one that he acknowledged wasn’t made until a short time ago.

“I was very unsure. I didn’t make a decision until a few days ago,” he said in a conference call with reporters. “There’s a multitude of reasons why I wasn’t comfortable; still not excited about it, still not thrilled. Obviously, what we’re fighting against, racism and social injustice and equality. The virus is still very well and alive and continues to rise in Florida.

Tatum added, “For me, just being away from my son for two or three months. That’s what’s really bothering me, knowing that he's only 2 ½. Especially that young, their growth, they change every week. Just knowing I’m going to miss out on that … it’s been tough.”

More than anything else, Tatum said his decision to join the team was made because of his desire to compete for a title while continuing to elevate the discussion on racism and social injustice while using the platform that will exist in Orlando with so much attention being paid to himself and the rest of the players there. 

“Hopefully this is a great opportunity to continue to raise awareness and be part of history,” Tatum said. “As we continue the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against racism, hopefully this is going to help. A lot of people are going to be watching. I think we can make a stand and continue to raise awareness and not let the conversation die down. I think it’s going to be part of history. That’s a big reason why I decided to go. 

Tatum added, “Like I said, I’m not thrilled, excited about it because I’m going to be away from my son and my family for so long. But I’m old enough to make my own decisions and live with it. I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me.”

Celtics Talk Podcast: Jaylen Brown continues to be MVP of the bubble for C's

Celtics Talk Podcast: Jaylen Brown continues to be MVP of the bubble for C's

Jaylen Brown has improved every facet of his game in Year 4 of his promising NBA career.

The Boston Celtics forward is averaging career highs in every major statistical category, and he's done a stellar job playing the Robin to Jayson Tatum's Batman throughout the 2019-20 season.

So far in the Orlando bubble, though, it's Brown who has taken over as Boston's Most Valuable Player.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Grizzlies, which begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 5 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Brown has been on fire through six games in the bubble, averaging 21.7 points, 7 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.2 assists through six games. On a brand new edition of the Celtics Talk Podcast, A. Sherrod Blakely emphatically explains to Kyle Draper why Brown is indisputably Boston's best player at this point in time.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Banner 18 in the bubble? Celtics' title chances getting stronger as postseason nears | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"In this moment, right now. Jaylen Brown is the best two-way player on this team right now. Right this minute," said Blakely. "And I'll go a step further, Jaylen Brown is the best player on this team period right now based on what he's doing in the bubble. Now, when we get to the playoffs do I expect him to be their best player? No. I expect him to be in the top three. I expect Tatum or Kemba to elevate and be that guy."

Blakely also praised Brown for continuing to be a leader off the court while dominating on it. After Sunday's overtime win vs. the Orlando Magic, the 23-year-old spoke at length about the issues of police brutality and mental health.

"Jaylen Brown is killing it, man. I mean he has been just an absolute beast," Blakely said. "And the thing that I love about Jaylen is that not only is he being a beast on the court and helping his team win, but all the social issues that he was championing before he got in the bubble that he said he would continue to have those conversations and use his platform to elevate those discussions, he's kept his word along those lines."

Also discussed on the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast: How will Stevens handle playoff rotation? Has Robert Williams earned playing time over Enes Kanter? Who is the Celtics' ideal first-round opponent? And is Gordon Hayward the C's X-factor for the playoffs?

Check out the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast on your favorite podcast app or watch it on YouTube below.

NBA odds: Celtics' title chances rise as East playoff picture gets clearer

NBA odds: Celtics' title chances rise as East playoff picture gets clearer

The Boston Celtics needed a few days to find their bearings in the NBA bubble. But now that they're on the right track, they could be staying Orlando for a while.

The Celtics locked themselves into the Eastern Conference's No. 3 seed Sunday with a 122-119 overtime win over the Orlando Magic. The victory was their third in a row after routing the Brooklyn Nets and stomping the defending champion Toronto Raptors.

One of the Celtics' major rivals, meanwhile, is heading in the other direction. The Philadelphia 76ers just lost All-Star guard Ben Simmons to a knee injury that could sideline him the entire postseason and fell to the No. 6 seed in the East with Sunday's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Grizzlies, which begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 5 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Both the Celtics and Sixers have three seeding games remaining, but as it stands now, they'd face each other in the first round of the NBA playoffs, a matchup that Boston actually might welcome with Simmons sidelined.

In short, things are looking up the C's -- and the sportsbooks have taken notice. Here are DraftKings Sportsbook's latest 2020 NBA championship odds as of Monday morning:

1. Milwaukee Bucks: +250
2. Los Angeles Lakers: +260
3. Los Angeles Clippers: +310
4. Toronto Raptors: +1000
5. Houston Rockets: +1300
6. Boston Celtics: +1600
7. Denver Nuggets: +2500
8. Miami Heat: +2500
9. Dallas Mavericks: +4000
10. Utah Jazz: +4000
All other teams have odds worse than +4000

The Celtics entered the bubble with +2000 odds to win the title but now sit at +1600, closely behind the Raptors and Rockets.

As for the Sixers? They also had +2000 odds prior to the seeding round but have plummeted outside the top 10 to +5000 after Simmons' injury.

The Bucks, Lakers and Clippers have long been the three most serious title contenders. The Celtics have held steady as a dark horse, though, and recent developments have strengthened their championship case: Kemba Walker has looked great while ramping up from a knee injury, while Jayson Tatum has shaken off some early rust to return to All-Star form.

Boston can take its foot off the gas during its final three seeding games with the No. 3 seed wrapped up. But once the postseason begins, it's full speed ahead toward Banner 18.