Well now, without question, we at least have the answer.
A decisive, indisputable yes.
In the most important game they have ever played together as true Celtics cornerstones, Tatum and Brown took over the second half last night and led the Celtics to a 93-80 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Celtics haven’t clinched this series yet, let alone a championship, but Boston’s two best players looked and sounded illuminated.
“We just got to come out and play basketball,” Brown said following the critical victory. “We feel like there’s not a lot of people who can play basketball with us two. When he gets going, when I get going, we know that we’re going to put ourselves in a good spot to win.”
We feel like there’s not a lot of people who can play basketball with us two.
Hasn’t that always been the point?
For sure, there is still basketball to be played in this NBA postseason, but we all know what has happened here. For whatever reason, light dawned over marble heads back in January and, for the better, the Celtics haven’t been the same since. Boston is now 36-11 in its last 47 regular- and post-season games, and the biggest reason is the synergy that has existed between Jayson and Jaylen, a two-way tandem that may be rivaled by perhaps no other in the NBA.
Last night, in the second half of a game that felt more like a rugby scrum, Brown and Tatum combined for 37 points, nine rebounds and five assists while shooting 14-of-23 overall and 4-of-8 from 3-point distance. They took the game over. Tatum was a plus-22 and Brown was a plus-21. They nearly matched Miami’s 38 second-half points all by themselves. In the process, they moved the Celtics to within one game of a trip to the final – the pair’s first and the team’s first since 2011 – moving one step closer to what has always been their potential.
Said Celtics coach Ime Udoka while discussing the change in his team’s play from the first half to the second last night: “Guys, J.T. and J.B. got it going, both those guys.”
As such the question now is very different from the ones being asked just a few months ago.
Can anybody stop them?