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Jayson Tatum says tough stretches make him appreciate Celtics’ Eastern Conference Finals runs

After a tough loss at Madison Square Garden, Tatum reminisced about early success in his young career.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Seven Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Before their game against the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics were 9-0 this season when they built up a lead of at least 20 points. Apparently, RJ Barrett took that stat personally.

Barret nailed a three-point heave to complete the Knicks’ comeback, led by a 41-point explosion from former Celtic Evan Fournier. Needless to say, frustration was the theme of most postgame interviews on the Celtics side of things.

Head coach Ime Udoka took the time to cite mental toughness as an issue. Robert Williams said that the team needs to “stick together.” Two-time All-Star Jayson Tatum said that the team needs to regroup.

“Yeah I think, it’s tough. We just gotta regroup. Obviously, losses, this stretch is kind of tough. Losing leads and just not finishing out in the fourth quarter.”

However, Tatum did more than simply discuss Boston’s recent rough patch. He used this as an opportunity to reflect on the “good old days” when the C’s were making Eastern Conference Finals runs. While this was only a few years back, Tatum made it sound like eons ago.

“I think you just gotta look at the big picture. The grand scheme of things and look back to those years when we were going to the conference finals. It makes you really appreciate those moments. ‘Cause it’s hard, it’s not easy.”

From 2017 to 2020, Boston reached three out of four Eastern Conference Finals. The first with Isaiah Thomas leading the charge, and the next two with Tatum and Jaylen Brown at the helm of the offense.

Tatum said that these rough patches help him appreciate those times. He also admitted that he used to think that sort of winning was just the norm. Tatum won in high school, he won in college, and the Celtics were so good when he was drafted that he won in the NBA, too.

“I think early on, probably my rookie year, I thought that was just normal. Winning all those games, winning games in the playoffs. Probably taking it for granted a little bit. Enjoy those moments. Stuff like this happens and I think it makes you appreciate times like that even more. Just knowing how hard it is to win in this league.”

The East is loaded with talent this year, and the Celtics fell to 11th in the conference with their loss to New York. That puts them not only out of the playoff picture but out of the play-in picture as well.

Despite back-to-back tough losses, Tatum says the best thing to do is keep moving. He stated that the team can “only learn from it” at this point. Tatum is looking forward to helping the C’s get back on track and says that these struggles will only make it feel that much better once they do.

“I mean, you only can learn from it. And remember the tough stretches where things aren’t going your way. It’s frustrating. And it keeps you up at night. And it bothers you. I think because when you go through stuff like this, and then it gets to the point when you figure it out and you kind of get back to what you’re used to doing. It makes that feel that much better.”