Via Yaron Weitzman
FOX Sports NBA Writer
BOSTON – Last winter, Jayson Tatum was posed a question by a friend.
“It’s Time to Break Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown “Kendrick Perkins, former NBA player and longtime Celtics center, announced in January on ESPN.” Their body language says that they don’t like to play with each other. “
Perkins is not the first pundit to claim that the young Celtics duo was destined to fail. However, he is the noisiest. Also, given his ties to Boston, his words carry weight.
In public, Tatum has always been tough on his emotions. “We see all this ‘We can’t play together’ thing, and people in the media say one of us has to go,” he told reporters in January. “We just had a talk about [how] We both want to be here, and we both want to figure that out. ”
But Tatum’s friend wants to know if that’s really what Tatum thinks.
“There aren’t many players like Jaylen in the NBA,” Tatum told his friend. “There aren’t many people who can do all the things he does.”
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Six months later, join Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday with Combatant, the Celtics are just two wins away from a title. Boston reaching this point is not proof that questions about the duo’s compatibility are wrong but quite the contrary. It’s an example of a pair of star teammates uncovering the truth amid all the noise and learning to grow together.
“I think all of that helped – from saying we needed to split up or get rid of someone or me and JB couldn’t play together,” Tatum told reporters after the Celtics entered. Final. “That pushed us to find it and not run away from it. Obviously we’re going to be here for a while and we trust each other and we have to get better. So I think instead. Because of the separation, we became closer and that showed throughout the season.”
Both Tatum and Brown finished Celtics green thanks to the team’s 2013 appearance brooklyn network in the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce deal. Boston picked Brown with pick #3 in 2016 and Tatum with pick #3 in 2017. Microscopy has been used both from the start. Not only are the Celtics – unlike most draft teams in the draw – a group with championship expectations, but Gordon HaywardA severe foot injury on the opening night of the 2017 season meant the Celtics were unexpectedly relying on the contributions of their young flanks.
Brad Stevens, the Celtics head coach, said of Tatum and Brown earlier that season: “We’re in a situation where we’re going to expect a lot from those guys, and we need them to be great. great”.
They were, and the Celtics, despite losing Kyrie Irving injured in the knockout stages, reaching the finals of the Eastern Conference. They even push LeBron James-lead to Cleveland Cavaliers to seven games, with 19-year-old Tatum and 20-year-old Brown playing prominent roles.
With that in mind, expectations that most second- and third-year lottery pickers don’t have to endure. During the 2017-18 season, the Celtics, despite the returns of both Hayward and Irving, took a step back, with both Tatum and Brown struggling to find their place in a new crowded ecosystem.
“I was pushed aside, and that messed up my confidence a little bit,” Brown said afterward.
After all, Brown and Tatum are still close. But Tatum was given a bigger role in the offense, and Brown wanted more. He never hides his confidence (Ex: Ask him about the development of the game over the years and the first thing he will do is correct you and say the skills are always there, all he needed was a chance) and those in and around the Celtics organization felt that he would sometimes compare himself to Tatum.
“Both of them are very competitive,” said a longtime teammate Al Horford. “There’s been a lot of development in that section. I just think we all figured out our way pretty early on. We’re both trying to figure out this league, how to play, how to be like that. Come on. They’re still playing well, but they’re still young. They don’t understand everything yet.”
That started to change the following season. Irving left. Brown was given more responsibility and did an excellent job. Tatum took a giant leap. Celtics once again advance to Conference finals before falling down Miami Heat.
But that step was followed by another leap. The Celtics 2020-21 season was a disaster. Both Brown and Tatum have developed into top scorers and breathless defenders. Both became All-Star teams. However, something is wrong. Talent doesn’t translate into victory. Fouls are often delayed and, due to the sticky hands of both Tatum and Brown, lack fluidity and fluidity.
Those problems continued this season, even though Stevens moved into the main office and hired Ime Udoka as the new coach. After the loss in November, the Celtics defender Smart Marcus criticized both Tatum and Brown, saying, “They don’t want to pass the ball.”
Much of the focus on the Celtics’ turnaround this season – they were 23-24 at one point – is on their defense evolving into the best defense in the league. But perhaps more importantly, their offense after the All-Star break turns into a spoiler. It’s a direct result of Tatum and Brown learning to play together and finding a balance between creating for themselves and for others. Both players finished the regular season with the best assist rates of their careers.
That carried over to the knockouts, as both showed the ability to fluctuate between driver and finisher.
“They’ve evolved,” Smart said recently. “They have to understand that they have to be mature… know when to let go of a person, when to help him, when to do what you have to.”
After holding on to their Game 7 win in the Eastern Conference finals in Miami, Brown and Tatum found each other in the middle of the FTX Arena floor. With giant smiles on their faces and NBA Finals hats on their heads, they hugged each other.
“They say we can’t play together!” Tatum shouted.
Players also do not let go.
Yaron Weitzman is an NBA writer for FOX Sports and the author of “Tanking to the Top: Philadelphia 76ers and the most incredible run in professional sports history. “Follow him on Twitter @YaronWeitzman.
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