Jayson Tatum

Confident Jayson Tatum says Celtics will win NBA Finals this year

Confident Jayson Tatum says Celtics will win NBA Finals this year

The Boston Celtics were the favorites to win the Eastern Conference at the beginning of the season, and young star Jayson Tatum is still quite confidence in his team's chances of reaching the 2019 NBA Finals.

Tatum didn't stop there, however. He told ESPN's Rachel Nichols after winning Saturday night's All-Star Skills Challenge in Charlotte that the Celtics will win Banner No. 18 this season.

"We're going to win the Finals this year," Tatum said. "Feb. 16, Jayson Tatum says (the Celtics) are going to win the Finals this year."

The Celtics entered the All-Star break in fourth place in the East standings, which is further down than most people thought they'd be at this point in the season. The C's have endured a real rollercoaster-like campaign, highlighted by impressive win streaks and plenty of wins against good teams (including a 7-3 record against their top four opponents in the conference) combined with stretches of poor play and puzzling losses to inferior teams. 

You still have to like Boston's chances come playoff time, though. One reason to like the Celtics is the confidence of their young players, and Tatum certainly is part of that. He went toe-to-toe with LeBron James in last season's Eastern Conference finals and nearly led Boston to a Game 7 win. Boston's other young contributors, including Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier, also don't lack confidence.

Overall, the C's have the most depth (and arguably the most talent) of any team in the conference, and they have an elite head coach in Brad Stevens. The challenge over the next two months for Stevens is finding the best rotations and roles for each player, because those two areas have been problematic thus far. Although, the situation has improved in recent weeks as Boston won 12 of its last 15 games before the All-Star break.

The Celtics will be a very tough out in the playoffs and would give the Golden State Warriors, or any Western Conference champion, a hard-fought NBA Finals series. First, the Celtics have to get there, and judging from Tatum's comments, it's quite clear they believe in their ability to get the job done. 

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Trae Young wants another shot at Jayson Tatum in NBA Skills Challenge

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USA TODAY Sports

Trae Young wants another shot at Jayson Tatum in NBA Skills Challenge

Jayson Tatum's dramatic victory in the NBA All-Star Weekend Skils Challenge made for great entertainment.

But Trae Young didn't exactly enjoy how it played out.

Young was the victim of Tatum's half-court heave that stunned the Atlanta Hawks guard as he casually pulled up for a 3-pointer from just beyond the arc.

And just minutes after the dust settled on Tatum's victory, Young demanded a rematch on Twitter.

It's a fair request from Young, who had a huge lead in the final round before Tatum snatched the trophy from his grasp.

But the Boston Celtics forward respectfully declined -- for now, anyway.

You'd decline too if you had the possibility of free tacos in your future.

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Jayson Tatum's wild Skills Challenge win had Celtics Twitter buzzing

Jayson Tatum's wild Skills Challenge win had Celtics Twitter buzzing

In a building full of household NBA names, a 20-year-old kid stole the show.

That'd be Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, who won the Skills Challenge at NBA All-Star Weekend on Saturday night by hitting a ridiculous half-court bank shot to defeat Trae Young in the final round.

It was probably the most dramatic finish since the Skills Challenge first launched in 2003, so naturally, it sent Twitter into a frenzy.

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora was one of the first to shout out Tatum after the dramatic victory.

Celtics legend Bill Russell also had a pretty good view of Tatum's heroics.

... As did Tatum's mother, Brandy Cole.

Celtics forward Marcus Morris and assistant general manager Mike Zarren showed their young swingman some love, too.

Weird Celtics Twitter predictably had a field day with Tatum, who became the first player in franchise history to win the Skills Challenge.

Go get those tacos, Jayson.

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