The NBA finals are set, and one former Blue Devil has made the cut. The Blue Zone takes a look at his effort in the conference finals, and what it would take for him to bring home the title:
Celtics win Eastern Conference finals
After a disappointing 111-103 loss in Game 6 to the No.1-seed Miami Heat in Boston, the second-seeded Celtics bounced back to win one more game on the road and clinched a spot in the NBA finals. In the decisive Game 7 in Miami, the Celtics took the lead in the first quarter and kept it throughout the game. The Heat narrowed the gap to two points with 50.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter and had the opportunity to take the lead with a three-pointer attempt from star Jimmy Butler. However, Butler’s shot wouldn’t fall, and Boston held on. After maintaining the lead throughout the close fourth quarter, the Celtics won Game 7 100-96 to advance to the finals and have a chance to win the franchise’s first championship since 2008. Former Blue Devil Jayson Tatum recorded a double-double with a team-leading 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to lead his team to another series win and extend the Celtics’ playoff run.
Tatum named first-ever Eastern Conference finals MVP
This season, the NBA awarded Conference finals MVP trophies to a player from each series for the first time in league history. In the Eastern Conference, Tatum was named the first Larry Bird Eastern Conference finals MVP. Averaging 25.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game throughout the series, the former Duke star was a key contributor in the Celtics’ four wins over the Heat. This achievement follows the forward’s selection to the All-NBA first team as he is beginning to be recognized as a superstar across the league. After winning an award named after Bird, a Boston legend, Tatum will look to earn his place among legendary championship-winning Celtics in his first appearance in the NBA Finals.
Tatum to make first NBA Finals appearance
After eliminating the Heat to win the Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics advanced to the NBA Finals to face the Golden State Warriors. While the current Golden State roster looks significantly different than the one that won three titles between 2015 and 2018, the team returns the star-studded trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, and has surrounded its core with more talent to get back to the finals. The Celtics will be facing one of the NBA’s elite offenses, but as a strong defensive team themselves, they have a chance to limit that production with potential matchups like Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart guarding Curry and Jaylen Brown on Thompson. Andrew Wiggins will challenge Tatum defensively, but the Celtics still pose an offensive threat despite pressure on one of their best playmakers and scorers. The last time the Celtics advanced to the finals was in 2010 when they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers. Tatum and the Celtics will have the opportunity to win the franchise’s 18th championship banner and take the title back to Boston.
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