Analyst Reveals Celtics With Most To Prove In 2024 Playoffs

Jayson Tatum, Kristaps Porzingis, Celtics, NBA
Mar 5, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) and forward Jayson Tatum (0) react after a play during the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics have been the best team in the NBA throughout the 2023-24 season by a wide margin. They jumped out to an early lead in the Eastern Conference and haven’t looked back, currently holding an 11-game lead over the second-place Milwaukee Bucks.

Being on cruise control throughout the season, it will be interesting to see how the Celtics can turn things on in the NBA playoffs. Despite how well they have played, the team has suffered some head-scratching losses along the way.

On Monday, against the Atlanta Hawks, Boston blew a 30-point lead, suffering arguably the worst loss of any team in the NBA this season. Meltdowns like that cannot happen once the postseason rolls around, as it is championship or bust for this Celtics squad.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Jayson Tatum, Kristaps Porzingis, Boston Celtics Updates

That means there will be pressure on some of the players on the team. One of the players facing that pressure is Jayson Tatum, who is an MVP candidate for some analysts around the league. In the opinion of ESPN’s NBA analyst Brian Windhorst, Tatum is one of the players with the most to prove in the postseason this year.

“Tatum is headed toward breaking teammate Jaylen Brown‘s current $288 million record contract and becoming the NBA’s first $300 million player when he signs his supermax from the Celtics this summer. He has earned that status and the money, but living with that contract attached to his name will be different depending on how these playoffs unfold for Tatum. In the past two seasons, Tatum went out with a whimper, albeit battling minor injuries,” wrote Windhorst.

Another so-so playoff performance for Tatum, especially in a clutch situation, would be far from ideal. It is easy to forget how young he still is, as LeBron James and JJ Redick touched on that during an episode of their new podcast. But eventually, you have to lead your team over the hump.

Based on their production in the regular season, this is the year to get that done. A big reason for their dominance has been the presence of Kristaps Porzingis, who was acquired in an offseason trade from the Washington Wizards.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Jayson Tatum, Kristaps Porzingis, Boston Celtics Updates

Porzingis has accepted his role willingly in Boston, learning from mistakes he made earlier in his NBA career. Windhorst believes he is another player who has a lot to prove this postseason as a result of that.

“Porzingis has had an excellent season: He has been highly efficient on offense and is having his best defensive season by far. He has already signed a $60 million extension in Boston, but his career has been beset with disappointment and missed opportunities, which has negatively affected his reputation and lowered his value. A strong and healthy postseason could alter the direction of his career,” wrote Windhorst.

A strong postseason from Porzingis is what could separate the Celtics from winning the NBA Championship or falling short of their goal. He is key to their success on the court, and he needs to remain healthy for them to reach their ceiling.

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