Trivializing Celtics' Success in Tatum-Brown Era a Take Not Measured Properly: 'Doing Something Right'

May 13, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) and guard Jaylen Brown during Game 4 vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers.
May 13, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) and guard Jaylen Brown during Game 4 vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers. / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
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Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are on their way to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fifth time in their seven-year partnership.

For the 27-year-old Brown, it's his sixth time reaching the NBA's final four in his eight-year career. Only Magic Johnson has played on that stage more before turning 28.

Tatum, who registered a team-best 25 points, grabbed ten rebounds, dished out nine assists, tying Darius Garland and Max Strus for the most in Game 5, and swiped four steals, pacing all participants in that category too, helping the Celtics punch their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fifth time in his seven years in green.

Johnson, who did so six times prior to turning 27, is the only player in league history to reach the doorstep of the NBA Finals more frequently than Tatum before that age.

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"It just shows the character of the team (and) the organization," expressed Tatum of what a fifth trip to the conference finals means to him. "People might think that it's a given that we're supposed to be here, but I just give a lot of credit to everybody in the front office, the coaching staff, the trainers, the guys that handle the equipment, the ball boys, the cooks, the chefs, the security team. We're all in this together. 

"Everybody has an affect on each other. We all impact each other to help winning and (to) build this culture that we have, and everybody should be proud of themselves. Obviously, it's not the end all be all if we don't win the championship, but we're doing something right."

While Boston's star tandem is yet to lift the Larry O'Brien Trophy, they're just now getting to play together in their primes. Historically, the league's pantheon players haven't led their team to a title before turning 27.

It takes time and requires patience. Trade rumors involving Brown that never came to fruition, dating back to the pick used to draft him, have allowed their highly successful partnership to persist.

According to StatMuse, Tatum, Brown, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are two of only three players with at least 40 playoff wins in the 2020s. While it's fair to feel a level of frustration that they haven't ascended to the NBA's summit yet, minimizing the consistent and high level of success they've led the Celtics to because it doesn't include a championship is a take not measured properly.

"We've just been in a lot of battles together," voiced Tatum of how his partnership with Brown has matured. "Seven years as teammates. He's been in the conference finals six times; this is my fifth time. We've been in a lot of crucial moments, regular season and playoff games, and just throughout the years, learning from our experiences. 

"(We're) really getting to a stage where we understand what we can do individually. We know how gifted we are offensively, but each night just kind of presents different challenges. (So), being ready and up for the task to do whatever is needed because both of us are capable on the basketball court to do literally everything. Each night may call for something different."

Perhaps how this playoff run ends or the more punitive collective bargaining agreement the NBA adopted leads to Boston breaking up Tatum and Brown. 

But between their growth as players and as leaders, including challenging their teammates throughout their semifinal series against the Cavaliers, their willingness to sacrifice and embrace any role required of them, and that the Celtics boast the most talented top six in the NBA and Wyc Grousbeck and the organization's ownership group viewing the next six years "as a real opportunity for us," what's to come might be eight more wins this postseason and the start of a run that raises multiple banners to the TD Garden rafters.

Further Reading

Past Hardships Brought Out Best in Al Horford in Career Night: 'You Saw His Gift'

Simple Changes Spark Stifling Second Half Defense in Celtics' Game 4 Win vs. Cavs

Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown Still Shaking Off Criticism While Growing as Leaders

Jrue Holiday Delivers 'Masterclass' in Game 3 Win vs. Cavs

Jayson Tatum Breaks Out of Scoring Slump That Never Defined Him: 'Underappreciated'

Derrick White Discusses Joining Elite Company in Game 1 Win vs. Cavaliers

Jaylen Brown Leads Celtics to Tone-Setting Win in Game 1 vs. Cavaliers

Kristaps Porzingis Discusses Target Date to Rejoin Celtics' Playoff Run: 'Doing Everything I Can'

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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.