Celtics Notes: Brown, Tatum, Finals Loss, Offseason

Although multiple Celtics players indicated in their post-game comments on Thursday night that their NBA Finals loss was a painful one, they did their best to frame their playoff run to within two games of a title as a positive experience and one they can build upon heading into next season, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“The future is bright,” Jaylen Brown said. “I always look at adversity as opportunities to shape an individual. For whatever reason, it wasn’t our time. That means we still got a lot to learn. Personally, I still got a lot to learn. For me, it’s always about growth. Continuing to get better, continuing to find different ways to lead. That’s what it’s about. The future is bright. I’m excited to get back next year.”

As Bontemps details in another ESPN story, Brown and Jayson Tatum accomplished a rare feat this season, becoming just the fourth 25-and-under duo to be the two top scorers on an NBA Finals team. Oddly, Bontemps notes, none of the other three duos (Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson; Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway; and Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook) ever made it back to the Finals together.

Brown and Tatum will be hoping to avoid a similar fate, and Bontemps believes they’re well positioned to do so, since all of Boston’s core players are locked up for multiple seasons.

Here’s more out of Boston:

  • Head coach Ime Udoka believes the Warriors’ experience and on-court intelligence were deciding factors in the NBA Finals and sees room for the Celtics to improve in those areas. “I think the biggest part for us is the IQ section,” Udoka said, per Jay King of The Athletic. “That’s where we saw a huge difference in consistency with us and Golden State, just the little things that experience only can teach you. … A team like Golden State who has been there, done that. It was evident in a lot of ways.”
  • Jayson Tatum suffered a shoulder stinger during the Eastern Conference Finals, but declined to cite that injury as a reason for his up-and-down production (.367 FG%) in the Finals, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
  • Udoka said he believes this series will go a long way toward helping Tatum adjust to being guarded like an All-NBA player going forward, Vardon writes in the same article. “This is only the start of how you’re going to be guarded and the attention you’re going to draw,” Udoka said. “I think this is the next step for him. Figuring that out, getting to where some of the veterans are that have seen everything and took their lumps early in their careers.”
  • In his Celtics offseason preview, Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) acknowledges that some teams in recent years have been burned by relying on roster continuity, but argues that it wouldn’t be a mistake for Boston to do so, given that the team’s two stars still have room to improve and the right complementary pieces are in place.
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