After sweeping Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets 4-0 in their best-of-7 series, Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics are putting the league on notice, as national analysts are now weighing in on Boston’s legitimate chances of winning a championship title.
That’s what happens when you hold Durant, one of the league’s premier scorers, to a 38.6% shooting clip while averaging 26.3 points per — which is Kevin’s lowest postseason scoring average since 2010.
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ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy on Celtics Sweeping Kevin Durant, Nets
On Tuesday morning, Van Gundy joined WEEI 93.7 FM’s The Greg Hill Show.
“I didn’t see a sweep, but they’re clearly a better team. They have been for the last three months,” Van Gundy said, per WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show. “So it didn’t surprise me that they were dominant, but sweeping Kevin Durant is obviously an incredible accomplishment.
“And the way they did it, they played better on offense than they did on defense at times, which is a great balance for them. They have the great defense, and to combine that with really good offense makes them what they are, which is truly a championship contender.”
According to Van Gundy, who pointed out the Celtics’ defense as the main pillar of their success, Boston’s two-time All-Star Jayson Tatum took a significant leap in his progression this season.
Van Gundy: Tatum Could Be The Best Player on The NBA’s Best Team
He is another big reason why Boston is the team it is today, and it isn’t just about what Tatum is doing on the offensive end of the floor.
“Jayson Tatum is an unbelievably great player, and he’s improved from being a dominant scorer to being the best players on what could be the best team,” Van Gundy said. “Because he is now passing the ball consistently, making the right plays, which engenders unselfishness for the whole team. And then defensively, he’s been awesome. His commitment to the defensive end of the floor and his actual defensive skill and anticipation is off the charts.”
Tatum undoubtedly stepped things up on defense. He finished with a career-high six steals in Game 3, but, was also active in the Nets’ passing lanes and constantly disrupting Brooklyn’s overall flow on offense.
Marcus Smart, the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year, efficient scoring from Jaylen Brown, and you’ll see Durant, Kyrie Irving, and the Nets were out-matched by the Celtics overall skillsets on both ends of the floor, which has increased Boston’s chances at an NBA championship.
“At the end of the day, Boston’s just better,” Van Gundy added. “They play better. They’re better constructed from a roster standpoint. All the talk about what Brooklyn didn’t do diminishes just what Boston did do. Boston’s just better.”
The Celtics await the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls’ best-of-7 series. The Bucks currently hold a 3-1 lead with a chance to close out the Bulls in Game 5 at Milwaukee Wednesday night.