Tatum has averaged 5.9 assists per game in the playoffs, including a nine-assist effort in Boston’s Game 5 win over the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. He’s taken his passing to another level in recent months and has facilitated well for the most part when he’s double-teamed.
Coach Ime Udoka has consistently preached the importance of making quick decisions and moving the ball, and Tatum’s ability to do so is often a barometer for how the Celtics fare. He turned it over seven times in their Game 6 loss, compared to two in their Game 7 win. For the series, that number was at 3.25 in wins and 6.67 in losses.
He said the defensive player of the year is quick enough to chase point guards around and big enough to guard anyone in the modern game. No one can stop Stephen Curry, but Smart has as good a chance as anyone to slow him down.
This is the first NBA Finals appearance for the 15-year NBA veteran. Horford had previously played in the most playoff games (141) in league history without making a Finals — a list he’s thrilled to no longer lead. He also increased his salary guarantee for next season by $5 million because the Celtics made the Finals.