Boston Celtics

The biggest questions, until relatively recently, concerned compatibility. Could Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum play together, complement one another? And more importantly, did they want to?

Well now, without question, we at least have the answer.

Yes.

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.”

May 25, 2022; Miami, Florida, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) celebrates with guard Jaylen Brown (7) during the fourth quarter of game five of the 2022 eastern conference finals against the Miami Heat at FTX Arena. Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

May 25, 2022; Miami, Florida, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) celebrates with guard Jaylen Brown (7) during the fourth quarter of game five of the 2022 eastern conference finals against the Miami Heat at FTX Arena. Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

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?


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  • Nonetheless, the Celtics emerged victorious as the series shifts back to Miami, thanks at least in part to a few developments in Game 4.

    Jayson Tatum Reclaimed His Game – And Got All The Calls

    May 23, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) goes to the basket in the first half against the Miami Heat during game four of the 2022 eastern conference finals at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    May 23, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) goes to the basket in the first half against the Miami Heat during game four of the 2022 eastern conference finals at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    After an atrocious Game 3, Tatum – like the Celtics – bounced back nicely, finishing with 31 points, eight rebounds, five assists and just three turnovers. He finished a team-best plus-37.

    Indisputably the Celtics’ worst culprit when it comes to whining about the officials, Tatum made 14-of-16 free throws and had a whopping 14 attempts in the first half. As a team, the Celtics got 38 free throw attempts to just 14 for the Heat. Is everyone happy now?

  • Al Horford, The Old Man of the C’s

    May 23, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) moves the ball defended by Miami Heat guard Victor Oladipo (4) in the first half during game four of the 2022 eastern conference finals at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    May 23, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) moves the ball defended by Miami Heat guard Victor Oladipo (4) in the first half during game four of the 2022 eastern conference finals at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    Looking for the exemplary professional? Horford took just two shots in Game 4, but he impacted the play in many other ways. He finished with 13 rebounds, three assists and four blocked shots – and never once really complained about anything.

    Horford has averaged nearly 36 minutes in this series and taken just 20 shots, but he is shooting .600 from the field, .750 from 3-point distance and 1.000 from the free-throw line. For the series, Horford is a plus-42, best on the team.

  • The Return of Robert Williams

    May 23, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Miami Heat forward P.J. Tucker (17) shoots the ball over Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III (44) in the first half during game four of the 2022 eastern conference finals at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    May 23, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Miami Heat forward P.J. Tucker (17) shoots the ball over Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III (44) in the first half during game four of the 2022 eastern conference finals at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Williams started the game with a limp that got worse as the night progressed, but let there be no doubt about his impact when he’s on the floor. In 67 minutes this series, Williams has 22 rebounds and seven blocks while converting 12-of-16 field goal attempts and 11-of-12 free throws.

    How much more can the Celtics get out of their big man, who underwent knee surgery several weeks ago? Good question. But the Celtics are a plus-33 with him on the floor and Bam Adebayo was a factor in only the one game Williams did not play.

PHOTOS: Celtics take on Heat in Game 5 of 2022 Eastern Conference Finals

You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program, and during baseball season from 6-7 p.m. on The Baseball Hour. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.


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