Jayson Tatum reminded the NBA world that he is still one of the most dominant players in the game today! The 6-foot 8 Boston Celtics small forward exploded for 50 points in a 118-100 victory over the Washington Wizards in the NBA Play-In Tournament (espn.com). The win means that the Celtics will face the number two seeded Brooklyn Nets in the playoffs, which begins on Saturday May 22.
Do the Celtics have a chance at upsetting the heavily favored Nets? Can Tatum continue his red hot shooting and keep creating matchup nightmares? Most NBA experts are not giving the Celtics much of a chance, but here are three reasons not to sleep on the boys from Boston.
The Nets ‘Terrific Trio’ Have Not Played Together Much
One of the Celtics’ main advantages over the Nets is they have a greater level of team continuity. Do the Nets have a much higher talent level than the Celtics? Absolutely!
However, the Nets dream team of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden have only played together for a grand total of eight games! It is almost as if the Nets think they can press a button once the playoffs begin and expect these players to magically know how to win together as a team. Hoops fans know that it rarely works out that way.
Even casual basketball fans know that eight games is not nearly enough time to grow and gel as a team! Tatum, Kemba Walker, and Marcus Smart have been playing well together for two straight seasons. Don’t underestimate the value of good team chemistry.
Boston Plays Better Defense than Brooklyn
Remember that popular old saying amongst basketball coaches: “Offense may win games but defense wins championships”? This statement especially applies to playoff basketball. Sure, the Nets have the definitive edge in scoring offense by a wide margin over the Celtics.
However, if we dig into the defensive stats, Boston has the clear edge over Brooklyn. Boston ranks 11th in the NBA in scoring defense as they allow a tad over 111 points per contest. Brooklyn ranks 21st in points allowed with a mark of just over 114 per game (ESPN). Also, Boston guard Marcus Smart is one of the best defenders in the league and he should slow down whomever he is guarding whether it is Irving or Harden.
All of the Pressure is on the Nets
When it comes to the NBA Playoffs, perhaps no team has higher expectations than the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets ownership group has pushed all of their chips to the center of the table by bringing in Durant, Irving, and Harden. It is an NBA championship or bust for Brooklyn this season.
On the other hand, no one expects the Boston Celtics to make a deep playoff run. This team should be playing loose, carefree basketball because they have nothing to lose. A team with nothing to lose is a dangerous team.