Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown Make Boston Celtics History, Surpassing Larry Bird, Kevin McHale
The Boston Celtics made it two straight wins on their current West Coast swing after thumping the Sacramento Kings for the second time to complete the season sweep. The Celtics remain one of the hottest teams in the NBA after stringing together nine straight wins right before All-Star Weekend.
Since the break, Boston has gone 9-2, vaulting the Celtics into the thick of the Eastern Conference race. In that 126-97 win over the Kings, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown made team history, bumping down Larry Bird and Kevin McHale.
The Boston Celtics have made themselves a legitimate title contender
For most of the year, things were bleak for the Celtics and their fans. One year after finishing the season at 36-36 and getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs, things seemed as if they wouldn’t change. Through 50 games this year, Boston was 25-25.
Then came their nine-game win streak, beginning with a 107-97 win at the New Orleans Pelicans. Although the streak began there, the turnaround actually began with back-to-back losses against the San Antonio Spurs and the New York Knicks. In that Knicks game, Boston blew yet another big lead, and Udoka called out their lack of mental toughness in the locker room.
“Some people liked it, some people didn’t,” Udoka said of him calling out the players, per MassLive.
Since that game, Boston has gone 25-7 and has turned itself into a legitimate championship contender.
“The team responded as they have all year, and we really said just stop messing around and giving up these leads,” Udoka said. “We had lost two or three 19-point leads, lost some games to Cleveland, Milwaukee on Christmas, Chicago early in there, and then the New York game. So turning point as far as us getting tired of losing the games that we had built up leads.”
Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown push aside Larry Bird, Kevin McHale
Tatum and Brown would probably do anything to achieve what Bird and McHale did during their storied careers with the Celtics in the 1980s. Bird and McHale claimed three titles together, while Brown and Tatum seek their first.
The current Celtics duo has the Celtics on the right track. While they are a long way from accomplishing what those two Hall of Famers did, Tatum and Brown bounced them from one section of the record books.
Tatum scored 32 points, while Brown added 30 in the win over the Kings. It was the fifth time this season they have each put up 30 or more points in the same game. Bird and McHale held the previous mark for the Celtics with four. That milestone may not matter to Tatum and Brown much. Winning is what’s most important.
For now, Boston is winning. The players are having fun.
“We’re much more upbeat,” Tatum said, per ESPN. “We’re having a lot more fun and we’re winning. Once you’re winning, that cures a lot of things. It’s always fun playing that way.”
Tatum and Brown have helped the Celtics completely turn things around
It seems like years ago when Marcus Smart called out Tatum and Brown. The veteran point guard publicly blasted the two stars for not passing the ball enough.
“Every team knows we’re trying to go to Jayson and Jaylen,” he said, according to CLNS Media. “Every team is programmed and studied to stop Jayson and Jaylen. I think everybody’s scouting report is to make those guys pass the ball. They don’t want to pass the ball.”
Udoka also questioned the team’s effort on numerous occasions. That, too, is a distant memory.
The Celtics have since jumped up to fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings and are four games out of first place.
Tatum and Brown might not be Bird and McHale, but Boston’s two young stars finally have them headed in the right direction.