It will require a full-team effort for the Celtics to reach the 2019 NBA Finals, but Boston will have higher expectations for some players than others.
Kyrie Irving, of course, is the straw the stirs the drink. The star point guard is one of two current Celtics with championship experience, and he’s a proven postseason performer. And considering what we know what to expect from Irving at this point, Stephen A. Smith believes Boston’s playoff X-factor needs to be someone other than the six-time All-Star.
In the eyes of the “First Take” co-host, Jayson Tatum just might be the difference maker as the C’s try to return to the Finals for the first time since 2010.
You typically need to tread lightly with expectations for young players, but an exception can be made for Tatum. The 20-year-old’s rookie season included an impressive collective playoff performance which saw Tatum average a team-high 18.5 points per game over 19 postseason contests. While Irving will continue to be the Celtics’ go-to scorer when it matters most, there’s no reason to believe Tatum won’t be able to stuff the stat sheet in the playoffs.
But luckily for the C’s, they won’t need to put all of their eggs in just Irving’s and Tatum’s baskets. Boston’s loaded roster has prompted some champagne problems thus far, but it could be what puts it over the top in the battle for Eastern Conference supremacy.