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Jayson Tatum: ‘None of this means anything if we don’t hang a banner’

Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 05: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics walks to the bench during a timeout in the second half of their NBA game against the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena on December 5, 2022 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)

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The Boston Celtics are the best team in the NBA this season. Unquestionably. They have the best record at 21-5, they have the best net rating at +9.2 (by a healthy 2.2 margin), they have a historically good offense with a 119.9 net rating and the defense, which stumbled a little early, is up to eighth in the league and that is without their best interior defender, Robert Williams, having touched the floor.

The Celtics have a little of a 2014 Spurs vibe — a team that lost in the Finals the season before (San Antonio in more heartbreaking fashion) and came out the next season on a mission. Part of that mission is a little revenge on Saturday night, taking on the team that beat them in the Finals last season, the Warriors.

Jason Tatum said the team isn’t focused on Saturday as much as the big picture with his recent comments on the Celtics’ fast start, via CelticsBlog (hat tip Real GM):

“We’re having a lot of fun, but I think the goal is still the same,” said Tatum. “Get back to the Finals and get over that hump. While we’re having fun and happy the way we plan, nobody in that locker room is celebrating, satisfied where we’re at. None of this means anything if we don’t hang a banner. That’s the ultimate goal.”

You can’t win the NBA title in the first third of the season, and a lot of things can change the dynamic (starting with the Bucks, who have been on the Celtics’ heels all season). However, you get a sense early in the season of who most of the serious contenders are and what the pecking order looks like.

Right now, the Celtics are the team to beat.

Tatum and company know that’s nice, but it’s not the end goal.