On Wednesday night, the Boston Celtics downed the Miami Heat 134-121 at TD Garden with Prince William and Kate Middleton in attendance. The stage was set with the atmosphere electric as Jayson Tatum gave a showstopping performance worthy of an MVP frontrunner.
Tatum led all scorers with 49 points on 15-of-25 shooting, 8-of-12 from deep, 11-of-12 from the charity stripe, and tallied 11 rebounds, three assists and two steals. Jaylen Brown was Boston’s second leading scorer, chipping in 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting along with 7 rebounds and 5 assists. As Tatum’s argument for MVP continues to build, his partnership with Jaylen Brown is also under a microscope with Brown having an All-Star season. Whatever rhetoric there was about Brown and Tatum being incapable of playing together is long expired.
The conversation surrounding Boston’s young stars has shifted greatly over the past year, especially with the team off to a red-hot start this season behind their combined efforts. Across the NBA, so many teams lean on a pair of stars to carry them to victory, but the situation that Boston has with two stars that developed alongside one another is rare. Now the question has become this: is there any duo better than Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum in the league right now?
“Hm. That’s a good question,” said Jayson Tatum with a smile. “I guess, yeah, whatever that means. I believe in (Jaylen Brown) and his ability and the things that he can do. We’ve obviously shown that we can play together at a high level and have great success... I guess that’s for you guys to decide.”
The Jays combined for 68 points in the Celtics' dominant win over Dallas Wednesday.— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) November 24, 2022
◽️ Jayson Tatum: 37 PTS | 13 REB | 5 AST
◽️ Jaylen Brown: 31 PTS | 4 REB | 4 AST
Is this the best duo in the NBA? pic.twitter.com/Ajra0xNCEh
One of the biggest knocks on the pairing of Brown and Tatum was their ability to have good games at the same time without hindering one another. This season, they’re both in the top-10 for made field goals, and top-15 in scoring. Over the last three seasons, Tatum and Brown have scored 30+ points each in 15 games, trailing only the duos of Westbrook/Durant and Kobe/Shaq. Last season, they passed Kevin McHale and Larry Bird for the most in a single season.
Tatum set multiple records with his performance over Miami, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to reach 900 career three pointers. He also is now the first player in NBA history to record multiple games with 45+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 8+ threes. While it might get overshadowed by Tatum’s big night, Jaylen Brown had an efficient 26 points for Boston, and was a big part of them closing the game down the stretch with 11 points in the 4th quarter on 4-of-9 shooting. The two stars are complimenting each other’s playstyle perfectly now, and opposing teams don’t know how to handle that kind of scoring firepower.
But despite all of this success, Boston’s dynamic duo has stayed grounded in the here-and-now, fueled by the heartbreak of their first Finals appearance. “We never talk about that,” said Tatum on being the NBA’s best duo. “We want to be the best team.We want to win a championship. If along the way we’re the best duo, we’ll take it.”
For Boston, that’s exactly what you’d want to hear, and it’s how Jayson Tatum has responded to all of the MVP chatter. The Celtics will go as far as their stars can take them, and the team is a reflection of Tatum and Brown at this point in their careers...and this Celtics team is hungry.