The wheels are in motion for the NBA to return to action within the next few months. It’s still in question just how the NBA will bring teams back. But one thing’s for sure, the Celtics will be in the playoffs.
Now that we’re finally getting closer to the return of NBA basketball, it’s time to start looking ahead to the playoffs. The Celtics are the third seed in the Eastern Conference and would be the fifth seed if the NBA went with a 1-16 seeding playoff format.
Regardless of the seeding, I want to highlight key Celtics players and give my analysis of what they can bring to the team come playoff time. First up, we have Boston’s young superstar: Jayson Tatum.
To say Jayson Tatum made the leap this season is an understatement. In all the years I’ve been watching basketball, I’ve never seen a player make quite the jump that he did so quickly. From October to January, Tatum averaged 21.5 points on 42.7% shooting. And then February came.
Jayson Tatum won the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for the month of February. Tatum averaged a team-high 30.7 points (49.4% FG, 48.1% 3PT), 7.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game while leading Boston to a 9-3 record. Tatum scored 30+ points in four straight games from Feb. 23-29, the longest streak of his career. He became just the fifth player in Celtics franchise history to average at least 30 points in a month.
Jayson Tatum was tearing up the league, to put it lightly. Even though his numbers dipped a bit during the month of March, he was still averaging 24.8 points (42.5% FG, 41.9% 3PT) and 6.8 rebounds per game. Tatum was getting playoff-ready before the season was suspended.
So what will happen when the Celtics return? Jayson Tatum said he didn’t have a basketball hoop at the start of quarantine. So, he hadn’t shot a basketball in some time. Eventually, he invested in a hoop and began to get basketball ready for when the season resumes.
Jayson Tatum was Boston’s best player before the season was suspended. He’ll continue to be Boston’s best player when it resumes. In Tatum’s short three-year career, he’s made the playoffs twice, and has three series wins under his belt. He especially got a taste of what it was like being one of the team’s top options during Boston’s 2018 playoff run.
With all that experience under his belt and the way he’s been performing this year, Tatum was bound to put on a showcase during the playoffs. The Celtics look at Tatum as their top guy, and he handles that role as best as any 22-year-old could.
Playoff matchups against the 76ers, Raptors, and Bucks would be challenging for Boston. But, they’ve beaten each one of those teams at least once this season. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if any team can come back from all of this and make a deep playoff run, it’s Boston. They have the youth and (kinda) depth to make it past these teams. Age is on Boston’s side, and they need to use that to their ultimate advantage.
Jayson Tatum was going to be a monster in the playoffs before COVID-19 put the season on hold. He’ll still be just that when the NBA decides to return. I can’t wait for all of us to witness Playoff Tatum.
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-Dante Turo (@DanteOnDeck)
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