Even during the Celtics’ current postseason run, Tatum has flitted between single-digit scoring nights and a 51-point explosion to send the Philadelphia 76ers home. However, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith doesn’t believe that Tatum is as inconsistent as what some believe, noting how the All-Star forward has tasted plenty of postseason success in his young career.
Jimmy Butler Praises Jayson Tatum
During his post-game press conference, Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler discussed the difficulties in trying to guard Tatum throughout a 48-minute contest, labeling him an MVP-caliber player in the process.
“That’s what MVP-caliber players do,” Butler said. “They do everything incredibly well. He made shots. He got to the free-throw line. He hit the three. Mid-post, transition, all of that.”
Butler, 33, has been a force during the playoffs, boosting the Heat’s offense with a stat line of 31.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game while shooting 52.2% from the field and dropping 37.% of his 3.6 three-point attempts per game.
Furthermore, both Butler and the Heat have extra motivation in their current series against Boston after losing in game seven at the same juncture of the playoffs last season.
Max Strus Discusses Miami’s Motivation
During a recent discussion with Heavy on Sports, Max Strus discussed Miami’s added motivation to defeat the Celtics this season as they look to settle the score from last year.
“It’s personal to everybody now,” Strus said. “Everybody was here last year. The guys that weren’t have taken that on, and they know what happened last year, and we take that personally.”
With their May 17 win, the Heat have taken an early lead over the Celtics in their Eastern Conference Finals, as multiple role players within their rotation stepped up during the second half. As such, the Celtics will need to win game two on May 19 if they wish to head into Miami with a level playing field.
Otherwise, Boston will find themselves with their backs against the wall at a very early juncture of their Eastern Conference Finals series, and given Miami’s current form and that they’ve already dispatched the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round.
The Celtics and Heat will be back in action on May 19 at the TD Garden, in a game where both teams will have something to gain by registering a win.