Stephen A. Smith Defends Celtics Star’s Inconsistent Performances

Boston Celtics Team Huddle

Getty Boston Celtics Team Huddle

For most of his tenure with the Boston Celtics, Jayson Tatum has been viewed as a player with MVP-level talent but the lack of consistency to eventually win the award.

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.

“I just believe in him. I believe in his greatness,” Smith said. “He’s 25 years of age. 6’9”, with those ball skills that he has. And he’s been here before. It’s like his fourth conference finals, for crying out loud. And just fresh off an NBA Finals appearance. It’s not like the moment is going to be to big for him or anything else. He needs to be a bit more consistent, but I think he will be.”
Tatum has played in all of Boston’s 14 playoff games during their current run to the Eastern Conference Finals, averaging 28.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game while shooting 45.7% from the field and 35.8% from deep.

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.