Well, the Celtics live to fight another day. Tatum finding his shot at the end was great. I was very happy for him. They obviously don’t win without that happening. But my favorite part from last night? The moment after the game when Jaylen hugged Tatum, and how happy Jaylen genuinely was for Jayson. That right there, is more important than you might think.
See, Brown and Tatum succeed side by side, not together. That only goes so far. It’s why some of the recent trades/duos have failed to have success. Yes, you need talent, and super teams make it entirely too easy to win sometimes, BUT you still have to play together.
You’re probably saying well duh…but it’s not that easy. When you look at MJ and Pippen highlights, what do you see? You see a plethora of clips of them hooking each other up with dimes leading to scoring opportunities…often posterizing dunks. There were fast breaks when they passed to each other like 4 times before someone scored. Is it fair to compare Tatum/Brown to Mj/Pip? On the surface, probably not. They were two of the greatest ever on BOTH sides of the ball. Something that just doesn’t happen anymore. Probably the greatest NBA duo ever. But to be fair, lets look at some of the other duos throughout history
Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter, which only happened for a short time because ego got in the way. I mean, holy hell..they hooked each other up for demoralizing posters all the time. Shaq and Kobe met a similar fate, but even they put it aside on court and often set each other up. Lebron and Wade was like watching someone play NBA 2K. Another duo where ego got in the way. See the pattern…
I mention these other duos, because Jaylen and Jason almost never pass to each other. It’s glaring. It’s not because they don’t like each other, you can genuinely tell that they do. However, a team is a kind of family, and families have ups and down. At times over this Celtic team’s history, there have been problems and failures. Most of these failures haven’t centered around talent or skill. They have been mental and self-inflicted. They have not learned to truly play/lead/succeed together yet.
Jaylen and Jason have to learn to succeed together. Over the past three weeks at post game press conferences they both have referred to the team as “my guys”. You might say whatever, no big deal, but philosophically that is a roadblock. Ego kills everything it touches..companies, bands, sports teams etc. It pushes people apart and gets in the way of rational decisions. They have to embrace co-leading this team, and see themselves as co-captians. There should be no more “my guys”, it should be “our guys”, or “the team”. This seems like a small thing, but it is a fundamental philosophical change, and great houses are built on strong foundations.
Also, Individually, they have not realized the power that they both wield. They need to start making each other better.
How do people make each other better? This is sometimes a surprisingly difficult question to answer. In basketball, A lot of it is knowing your teammates personalities, strength’s and weaknesses and maximizing them. Teams stop Tatum by aggressively double teaming him. Also on the pick & roll they don’t let him go right (which he hasn’t figured out yet) but that’s a side note. When that happens, Tatum usually makes the right pass. More than that has to happen though. When they charge Tatum like that, it’s Jaylen that needs to cut to the hole., and vice versa. When Jaylen is double teamed, it’s Tatum that needs to cut to the hole.
The reason? Both these guys command heightened attention. No disrespect to the other role players, but when one of the big two cuts, the whole opposing team notices. That sends ripples through the entire defense, which will open up people, most likely Brown and/or Jaylen.
When you look at old clips of Jordan and Kobe (both great one on one players) you also see endless clips of them moving without the ball. Never with Jaylen or Tatum. Why is this important? Because it is much more difficult for a defense to key on someone without the ball. When they both learn to play offense without the ball, and stress defensess out, only then will they achieve their greatest potential.
These things are the last step in Jason and Jaylen’s (as well as the Celtic’s) evolution. When they figure this out, they will attain the level of greatness that we all think they are capable of.