The Boston Celtics are still marching on through the NBA Playoffs. They’ll take on the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals starting on Tuesday night. However, not every team around the league is still battling for a title. In turn, some of the NBA’s top superstars are able to give their thoughts from the perspective of an outsider.
One player who has been sharing his thoughts on Twitter throughout the postseason has been Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James. The 37-year-old superstar held a Q&A on Twitter on Monday, May 16, and one of his responses included Celtics star Jayson Tatum.
A Twitter user asked James who he believes is the best player left in the playoffs. While James was hesitant to pick just one guy, he listed off a group of names that included Tatum.
In total, James listed a group of six five players. Tatum was the only Celtics player in the bunch, but the others included Heat forward Jimmy Butler, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, and Golden State Warriors guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
This isn’t the first time Tatum has received praise from James. The Lakers star graced Tatum with a new nickname after a regular-season meeting between the Celtics and Lakers back in 2020.
James’ Nickname for Tatum
The Celtics and Lakers squared off on February 23, 2020. While the Lakers would earn the victory, 114-112, Tatum put up incredible numbers. The Celtics superstar scored 41 points, adding five rebounds and two assists to his totals as well. James took to Instagram after the game to give props to Tatum.
James posted a picture of him and Tatum at the scorer’s table, waiting to check in to the game. James called Tatum “an absolute problem” in the post’s caption and encouraged the then 21-year-old to keep pushing forward.
After James’ post, Tatum was handed the nickname “The Problem.” When asked, Tatum said he was on board with the idea.
Tatum has done more than earn the respect of James, though. He also managed to mirror one of James’ famous playoff performances.
Tatum’s Game 6 Showed Flashes of James
In Boston’s Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Milwaukee Bucks, Tatum had an up-and-down series. He shot below 40% from the field in two of the seven games and shot 30% or below from three in three of the seven. However, the Celtics superstar made up for his struggles with an incredible performance in Game 6.
Tatum dropped 46 points, nine rebounds, and four assists, leading the Celtics to a 108-95 win and sending the series to a Game 7 (which Boston would eventually win). He shot the ball well in Game 6, too, going 17-of-32 from the field and 7-of-15 from three-point range. During the contest, people began drawing comparisons to James.
Back in 2012, James put up eerily similar numbers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics. James notched 45 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists. Brian Robb of MassLive pointed out the similarities but also noted that “the Celtics and Tatum still have a long way to go to match what James and the Heat did that postseason.”
The Heat are Tatum’s next hurdle if he hopes to mirror James’ 2012 success further. Boston’s Eastern Conference Finals series against Miami begins on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time.