The Boston Celtics made it all the way to the NBA Finals this past year but unfortunately fell short, losing to the Golden State Warriors in six games. It was a crushing defeat, but in the grand scheme of things, Boston surpassed the expectations of many.
Regardless, they had a real shot at bringing home Banner 18, but they just couldn’t get the job done. One of the primary reasons behind their Finals defeat was the subpar play of Jayson Tatum. The Celtics superstar struggled to hit shots throughout the course of the series.
During his end-of-season press conference, Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens was asked about the message he sent to Tatum after his struggles in the Finals. The former coach made his message clear: Take a breather.
“I told him, ‘go on vacation. Get some rest.’ This guy gave us everything he had. When you look at the minutes, when you look at the games played. He’s a superstar that doesn’t want to sit… He would be the first to say he would like to have some of those moments back,” Stevens explained.
Despite his subar play in the Finals, Tatum had an amazing season. During the regular season, he averaged 26.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 4.4 assists on 45.3% shooting from the field and 35.3% shooting from behind the three-point line. He was awarded All-NBA First Team honors for his efforts.
In addition to his comments on Tatum, Stevens also had plenty to say about first-year head coach Ime Udoka.
Stevens Praises Udoka’s First Season
Boston hired Udoka to replace Stevens as their head coach last offseason, and in his first year, he accomplished something Stevens never could. He took the Celtics to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010, and when Stevens was asked about Udoka’s season, he had nothing but praise for the rookie head coach.
“Did a great job … he went through pretty much everything you can go through … that’s a testament to the way he stayed even-keeled … he found a rhythm in coaching this group … did a good job in maintaining his competitiveness and also his perspective,” Stevens stated.
Udoka utilized a straightforward coaching approach, often calling out his players publicly and outwardly challenging them. He could be seen intensely lecturing his team on the sidelines every game, striving to get the best out of them on a nightly basis.
Due to Boston’s second-half turnaround, Udoka received heaps of praise. He even finished fourth in this past year’s Coach of the Year voting.
As far as roster moves this summer, Stevens did admit that there is one area of the game where Boston could stand to improve.
Stevens Notes Boston Could Use More Playmaking
When asked about playmaking woes, Stevens admitted that the Celtics could use some more help in that area heading into next season.
“I think we need a little more playmaking. I think that’s real. I (also) don’t think we can be stagnant … when we’re at our best, we play with pace … I thought we played pretty slow in that last series,” said Stevens.
Boston will have a $17.1 million TPE and their MLE at their disposal this summer to address that area of need.