Maturity a Source of Confidence for Celtics: 'We're Graduating'

Apr 21, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) and guard Jaylen Brown during pregame introductions.
Apr 21, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) and guard Jaylen Brown during pregame introductions. / Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

NBA stars typically don't lead their team to a title until they turn 27 and start playing at the peak of their powers. There are countless reasons for the time and patience required before even the league's most prominent players ascend to the NBA's summit.

One of them is the maturation process. From Michael Jordan needing to become more trusting of his teammates to LeBron James disappearing in the 2011 Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, even the game's greats have endured growing pains that played a role in them coming up short before breaking through to lift the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

For the Boston Celtics, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown entered this season having guided the franchise to at least the Eastern Conference Finals four times in their first six years together. That includes coming within two wins of raising Banner 18 to the TD Garden rafters in 2022.

But with Tatum turning 26 this season and the other half of Boston's star wing tandem 27, this is the first time they're sharing the floor in their primes.

While the organization is hopeful it helps complete this year's championship pursuit, one of the ways the maturation process included a painful price to pay last postseason was the Celtics' struggles protecting the parquet.

Boston went five and six on its home floor in the 2023 playoffs, including failing to close out an Atlanta Hawks team missing Dejounte Murray in Game 5 and dropping the series opener vs. the Philadelphia 76ers in the following round. The C's then dropped three of four home games against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

So, after delivering a haymaker in their 118-84 win at TD Garden against the same opponent that ended their title hopes last season, Tatum candidly shared his perspective on whether finishing off the Heat in five games is a testament to the Celtics maturing.

"Yes, and that's how it should be," voiced the five-time All-Star. "We should be learning from our mistakes and learning from things that we could have done better and applying it to the next season, which we are doing this year. Because we're trying to have a different outcome from what we had last year."

In the locker room, Brown conveyed, "We still have tests to go through throughout this playoffs, especially now with KP being out, but I think we're up to the challenge; I think I'm up to the challenge, and I'm excited about that. So, we're graduating; we haven't graduated yet."

Further Reading

Celtics Discuss Added Significance of Eliminating Heat: 'Wanted to Play Miami'

Celtics Vanquish Heat, Reach East Semifinals for 7th Time in 8 Years

Derrick White Praises Teammates for Career Night: 'Credit Goes to Them'

Derrick White Stars, Porzingis Exits, Celtics Push Heat to Brink of Elimination

'Burned Inside': Kristaps Porzingis Bounces Back from 'Worst Game as a Celtic'

Celtics Right the Wrongs of Game 2 to Take 2-1 Lead Over Heat

Celtics Bench Stars in Its Role in Game 1 Win vs. Heat: 'An Identity of Our Team'

Jayson Tatum Discusses First-Career Playoff Triple-Double: 'A Beautiful Game'

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Bobby Krivitsky


Bobby Krivitsky's experiences include covering the NBA as a credentialed reporter for Basketball Insiders. He's also a national sports talk host for SportsMap Radio, a network airing on 96 radio stations throughout the country. Additionally, he was a major-market host, update anchor, and producer for IMG Audio, and he worked for Bleacher Report as an NFL and NBA columnist.