Celtics take nothing for granted on brink of NBA crown

June 15, 2024
Boston's Derrick White, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown talk things over during the Celtics' victory over Dallas in game two of the NBA Finals. — AFP

LOS ANGELES: Jayson Tatum has known since he was drafted by the Celtics in 2017 that the measure of success in Boston is an NBA title, but he´s not chalking up championship No. 18 just yet.


“Even now, up 3-0, nobody is celebrating or anything,” Tatum said Thursday, a day after the Celtics thwarted a late Dallas rally to beat the Mavericks 106-99 and take a stranglehold on the best-of-seven NBA Finals.

They´ve piled up 10 straight playoff victories, including a sweep of the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals and can close out the Mavericks in Dallas on Friday. But even though no team has rallied from 0-3 down to win an NBA playoff series, Tatum said he and his Celtics teammates will remain focused only on playing better in game four.

“We still feel like there´s a lot more that we can do,” Tatum said. “There´s a lot more that we want to do.” The Celtics are currently tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for most NBA titles all-time with 17.

They last lifted the trophy in 2008, and Tatum and teammate Jaylen Brown were on the team that had a chance for No. 18 two years ago but came up short against the Golden State Warriors in a title series that Boston led 2-1 before dropping the last three games.

Vying for redemption last season, the Celtics fell in seven games to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. “I think from our experiences over the past couple of years, the thing that we´ve really gotten a lot better at is not relaxing, not being complacent,” Tatum said.

Brown said the “embarrassment” of falling in game seven, on their home floor, to Miami last year had fueled him this season. “It drove me all summer, drove me crazy,” he said. Tatum called last season “a great learning experience.”