Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Celtics vs. Mavericks: Jayson Tatum sees return to NBA Finals as a ‘second chance’ after losing in 2022

The Boston Celtics are back in the NBA Finals for the second time in three years, and are certainly hoping things go better than they did last time. The Celtics lost to the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals, where they had a 2-1 series lead but ended up losing the last three games to fall in six games. Several of the core players who were on that Finals team still remain, and one in particular, Jayson Tatum, is viewing this opportunity as a “second chance” after losing in 2022.

“It’s a lot that myself, and we, can learn from that experience being in the Finals, and this time, this go-around is a lot different,” Tatum said. “Obviously, we’ve been there before, we came up short. And a great opportunity to make it to the Finals again. You don’t always get a second chance, so really just looking at it as a second chance and trying to simplify things as much as we can.”

Tatum struggled with efficiency in that series against the Warriors in 2022, shooting just 36.7% from the field, and in Golden State’s close-out win in Game 6 he managed just 13 points on 6-of-18 shooting from the floor. But so far during this dominant postseason run, Tatum is shooting the ball better than he did in 2022, while averaging 26 points, 10.4 rebounds and nearly six assists. He also doesn’t have to put up supernova performances for the Celtics to come out on top, as Jaylen Brown is capable of sharing the offensive load, while guys like Derrick White, Jrue Holiday and Al Horford can all chip in as well. 

There’s also the looming return of Kristaps Porzingis, who has been having the most efficient year of his career, shooting over 50% while averaging 20.1 points in the regular season. Porzingis has only played in four postseason games due to a calf strain, but could be on the brink of a return in the NBA Finals.

When the Celtics are at full strength they’ve been the most dominant team this season, and even without Porzingis they’ve shown in this postseason run that they can take care of business against inferior competition. This iteration of the Celtics is better equipped to win a championship compared to that 2022 team, and with the experience that they gained two years ago — as well as losing in the Eastern Conference finals last season — everything is lined up perfectly for Boston to hang its 18th banner. 

It won’t be an easy feat, as the Dallas Mavericks have been battle tested through the Western Conference, but Tatum and the Celtics are hoping that those lessons they learned in 2022 will pay off against the Mavericks when the Finals start on June 6.

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