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MVP candidate Jayson Tatum said Saturday’s matchup with the Golden State Warriors is just another game. The red-hot Boston Celtics meet the team that knocked them off in the 2022 NBA Finals, and Tatum downplayed the hype that’s coming with it.

It’s because of those Warriors that the Celtics have gotten off to an NBA-best record of 21-5. Watching the Warriors celebrate a championship on Boston’s home floor served as motivation for the Celtics. While Tatum said it’s just another game, Boston Celtics vs. Golden State Warriors is much more than that.

Boston Celtics vs. Golden State Warriors is not what Jayson Tatum says it is

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors loses the ball as Jayson Tatum and Al Horford of the Boston Celtics look on during the second half of Game 6 of the NBA Finals at TD Garden on June 16, 2022. | Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images.

Big picture, it’s just one of 82 regular-season games. A loss to the Warriors on Saturday isn’t going to make or break either team’s year.

While that much is true, it’s a game that will trigger flashbacks to Game 6, a memory the Celtics would love to forget. While the sting of that loss lasted throughout the summer, it has stuck with the players and has driven them. Tatum admitted to having a tough summer but recently said Saturday’s meeting is just another game.

“It’s just one game,” Tatum told reporters. “Obviously, it’s probably a big deal, and everybody’s going to make it a big deal. Being honest, they beat us last year. They won the championship, and we lost.

“They got that over us, and we understand that. Obviously, we want to go in there and continue to build off what we’ve been doing, and going in there and get a win. In the grand scheme of things, it’s just one game. It’s not going to make or break whatever we’re trying to accomplish.”

Tatum is right, but deep down, this game means much more than any other regular-season game.

The Celtics will look to make another statement against the Warriors


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The Celtics have lost to three teams this year — the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls twice and the Miami Heat. They are a far cry from where they were at this time last year. A year ago, they hovered around the .500 mark through 50 games before becoming the hottest team in the NBA.

This year, they have picked up right where they left off. There has been no pattern of blown leads. The Celtics have the best offense in the game and are playing unselfish basketball. Tatum is the front-runner in the early MVP voting. Things are clicking in Boston.

The Celtics are in the middle of a six-game road trip but began their current four-game West Coast swing with a statement victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, winning 125-98. They are 3-0 on the trip, with the Warriors next on the list.

While Tatum says it’s just another game, you know the Celtics are ready to send another message to the rest of the league.

“Losing at the highest point in the NBA Finals, there’s nothing more humbling than that,” said Jaylen Brown said after Wednesday’s win. “There’s nothing that can bring forth humility than losing in the biggest moment of your career.

“Transferring to this season, we was all humbled. I think that’s a part of our makeup as well. We are playing from our experiences, from our heartbreak, from coming up short.”

They might say it’s just another game, but we all know it’s much more than that.