We thought that Jayson Tatum and his Boston Celtics teammates had shown enough guts and gumption to overcome a limited Cleveland Cavaliers, but the great LeBron James was, well, great, and his teammates, without the concussed Kevin Love, certainly stepped up.
Cleveland won 87-79 and will face the winners of the Houston-Golden State series.
If Cleveland won because LeBron James is an incredible player and his teammates met him part way on the road, Boston lost because the Celtics, already ravaged by injuries, were simply too young to manage winning time.
The Celtics missed a ton of shots down the stretch and watched as Cleveland slowly pulled away.
Nonetheless, Boston’s future is incredibly bright. This was best summed up by Tatum’s almost shocking dunk on James and even more so by getting his face and following that massive play up with a three point shot.
If Tatum had hit one more three basket, he would have broken Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s rookie record for most points in the playoffs.
Imagine that - Tatum is being mentioned in the same breath with a legendary player.
After the game, James had this to say about the young former Blue Devil: “I just love everything about the kid — the way he plays the game, his demeanor, where he comes from. I know his parents. I just know he’s built for stardom. He’s built for success. And that’s both on and off the floor. Two guys right there that — Boston is lucky to have them.”
Presumably he’s referring to Jaylen Brown.
Between Tatum, Brown, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier, Boston has a very nice young core and remember they did all of this without former Duke point guard Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, who played less than three minutes for Boston this season.
Either of those guys would have known what to do in situations that the young guys just weren’t ready for.
We’re sure everyone in Boston is disappointed, but is there a team in the NBA with a brighter future? We don’t think so.
Next year should be incredibly fun.
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