The Boston Celtics are headed back to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight season.
The Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 114-112 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, behind a team-high 25 points from rookie Jayson Tatum. His final basket gave the Celtics a lead they would not relinquish with 22.5 seconds remaining.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 10, 2018
“We said it over and over again, Brad (Stevens) does a great job of putting guys in a great spot,” Tatum said to TNT. “We got a lot of heart and a lot of talent on this team no matter how young we are. Nobody expected us to be this far. No one thought we would beat them but the guys in the locker room and the fans in here.”
Tatum’s play has blossomed in the playoffs and it’s been needed with Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving out with injuries. In the last seven games, Tatum has scored 20 points or more, becoming the first Celtic to do so since Paul Pierce in the 2004-05 season. He’s doing all this at 20 years old.
The Celtics now host LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavilers in a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference Finals, which Cleveland won in five games. But before getting to Sunday’s matchup, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens wants his team to rest up for another tough series.
“The most important thing that our team can do [Thursday] is go outside and get away from it for a day, and take a day off,” Stevens said Wednesday night to NBA.com. “Take a deep breath.”
For Tatum, it’s been a dream of his to play in the NBA since he was a young teenager. In 2012, at the age of 14, he tweeted to LeBron James, hoping to get a follow-back after posting a picture of a young Tatum with King James.
— Jayson Tatum (@jaytatum0) April 13, 2012
A month earlier, in March 2012, Tatum tweeted to Jeremy Lin, showing him his bracelet that he was wearing from ActiveFaith with the inscription, “In Jesus Name I Play.”
— Jayson Tatum (@jaytatum0) March 17, 2012
Tatum recently told Rob Maadi that his faith helps him and keeps him grounded now that he is an NBA player.
“It helps me a lot. That’s an understatement,” Tatum said. “My grandmother always told me to always remember where you came from. To whom much is given, much is required. That’s always stuck with me. She told me to never be arrogant and always be humble. No matter how this game of basketball takes you.”
Here’s the full schedule for the Eastern Conference finals (All times are Eastern Standard Time):
Sunday, May 13: At Boston, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
Tuesday, May 15: At Boston, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Saturday, May 19: At Cleveland, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Monday, May 21: At Cleveland, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Wednesday, May 23: At Boston, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)*
Friday, May 25: At Cleveland, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)*
Sunday, May 27: At Boston, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)*
— Celtics Semi Ojeleye providing playoff spark in Boston
— Celtics rookie forward Jayson Tatum says he plays for Jesus
— Former NBA star Vin Baker says hitting rock bottom led him back to God
— Celtics rookie Semi Ojeleye shares Bible verses on twitter page as source of encouragement