Tatum and Boston's dynamic trio – Celtics season review in Stats Perform data

By Sports Desk October 14, 2020

The 2019-20 season saw the emergence of Jayson Tatum as a genuine star.

Tatum – the third pick in the 2017 NBA Draft – turned potential into performance as he capped a memorable campaign with All-Star honours for the first time in his career.

An elite scorer, Tatum was at the forefront of everything good about the Celtics before and after the coronavirus pandemic.

But, the Celtics still lost in the Conference finals for the third time in four years – beaten 4-2 by the Miami Heat at Walt Disney World Resort – after finishing third in the east with a 48-24 record.

The Celtics are yet to reach the NBA Finals since 2009-10, while the historic franchise have not got their hands on the Larry O'Brien trophy since the Doc Rivers era in 2007-08.

As the Celtics reflect after watching the Los Angeles Lakers equal their record for most championships (17), we review the team's 2019-20 campaign using Stats Perform data.


Boston's dynamic trio

Kemba Walker's arrival in Boston helped create a formidable trio alongside Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

After spending his entire NBA career at the Charlotte Hornets, four-time All-Star Walker opted for a new challenge via free agency by committing to a four-year, $141million contract with the Celtics.

As a result, Terry Rozier left the Celtics for the Hornets in a sign-and-trade last year.

Since investing in Walker, the Celtics have put together a stellar trio, which became just the second group of three team-mates in NBA history to average 20-plus points and 2-plus three-pointers made per game apiece in a season (minimum 50 games played).

Walker averaged 20.4 points and 3.2 three-pointers made per game during the regular season, to go with Tatum (23.4ppg and 2.9 3pm) and Brown (20.3ppg and 2.3 3pm).

The only other trio to do so were the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in 2017-18.


Tatum joins elite list

It was a coming of age for Tatum, much to the delight of the Celtics and all those connected with the team.

Tatum cemented himself as one of the best players in the league by averaging 23.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game – up on his 2018-19 averages of 15.7ppg, 6.0rpg and 2.1 apg.

The 22-year-old also enjoyed a fine playoff campaign, becoming only the third player in NBA history to average 25.0-plus points, 10.0-plus rebounds and 5.0-plus assists per game in a single postseason with 15 or more games played.

Lakers superstar LeBron James (in 2014-15 and 2019-20) and Boston's Larry Bird (in 1983-84 and 1986-87) are the only other players to reach the feat.


Lack of depth

For all of Boston's good work and impressive starting five, their lack of depth was exposed in the playoffs.

The Celtics relied on their starters more than any other team in the postseason at 83.3 per cent with 1,549 of their 1,859 points scored by the starting five, ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers (83.1 per cent), Indiana Pacers (82.6 per cent), Houston Rockets (77.3 per cent) and Portland Trail Blazers (76.5 per cent).

As for the portion of minutes played by starters in the postseason, the Celtics (75.0 per cent) again topped the list ahead of the Pacers (72.2 per cent), 76ers (72.0 per cent), Utah Jazz (71.8 per cent) and Rockets (70.9 per cent).

The Celtics had fewer than 25 bench points in each of their last 15 playoff games this year, one of the longest streaks in a single postseason in the past 35 years, only behind the Detroit Pistons (19 in 2005) and Pacers (17 in 2013).

The problem of a thin bench was likely exacerbated by the number of close games the Celtics played in, since teams usually need their best players on the floor for longer periods of time in tight encounters.

Boston had eight playoff games decided by five points or less, tied for second most in a single postseason in franchise history.

Also, this was the second consecutive year the Celtics had some issues with turnovers in the playoffs. After going plus-1.4 for turnovers in the regular season, Boston were then minus-1.4 in the postseason.

Related items

  • It means nothing now – Lowe moves on from Game 2 heroics It means nothing now – Lowe moves on from Game 2 heroics

    Brandon Lowe is quickly moving on from his heroics for the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 2 of the World Series, saying it "means nothing now".

    Lowe crushed two home runs as the Rays beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 on Wednesday to level the series at 1-1.

    The 26-year-old became the second player in MLB history to have a multi-homer game in the World Series after entering the clash with a sub-.200 batting average in the postseason (minimum 30 plate appearances), as per Stats Perform.

    Lowe, who went two-for-five with three RBIs, said he would move on quickly.

    "Leaving today I feel a lot better than I have beforehand, that's for sure," he told ESPN.

    "Not to read too deep into it, but tonight, you've got to come out the next day, come out the next game and do it all over again.

    "Today means nothing now, you've got to come out and do it all again."

    Rays ace Blake Snell produced a fine start, striking out nine in 4.2 innings while conceding two runs.

    Lowe praised the pitcher, saying: "It was a blast.

    "There were a few times that I think he fooled me and I knew what pitches were coming, which is pretty impressive.

    "He was looking really good and I didn't expect anything else coming out of Blake."

    Game 3 of the World Series is on Friday.

  • Rays hold off Dodgers rally to level World Series Rays hold off Dodgers rally to level World Series

    Brandon Lowe and Blake Snell stepped up as the Tampa Bay Rays evened the World Series by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 in Game 2 on Wednesday.

    Lowe homered twice and ace Snell starred to help the Rays bounce back from Tuesday's 8-3 defeat to the Dodgers in Arlington, Texas.

    After homering off starter Tony Gonsolin in the first inning, Lowe repeated the feat off Dustin May in the fifth as the Rays took control at Globe Life Field, where Tampa Bay led 5-0.

    The Dodgers – without a World Series title since 1988 – rallied through Will Smith's sixth-inning home run and National League Championship Series (NLCS) MVP Corey Seager's homer in the eighth but the Rays held on.

    Lowe became the second player in MLB history to have a multi-homer game in the World Series after entering the contest with a sub-.200 batting average in the postseason, following the Baltimore Orioles' Eddie Murray, according to Stats Perform.

    Tampa Bay's Lowe and Joey Wendle also became the first set of team-mates in World Series history to drive in three-plus runs each to account for all of their team's runs in a game.

    Snell set the tone for the Rays, boasting eight-plus strikeouts and no hits allowed through four innings, following in the footsteps of Sandy Koufax in 1963.

    The Rays pitcher's dream of a no-hitter was dashed in the fifth – walking Kike Hernandez and serving up a home run to Chris Taylor. After a walk to Dodgers star Mookie Betts and a Seager single, Snell departed after 4.2 innings, two hits, two runs, one homer and nine strikeouts.

    In his absence, the Dodgers' Smith connected on Nick Anderson's pitch for a home run in the sixth before Seager went long off Pete Fairbanks, however, the Rays withstood the fightback.

    The teams will return for Game 3 on Friday, with the Dodgers sending Walker Buehler to the mound as the Rays – eyeing their first World Series crown – start Charlie Morton.

  • Kawhi and George will stay as long as Clippers win – Lue Kawhi and George will stay as long as Clippers win – Lue

    Tyronn Lue believes star duo Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will remain with the Los Angeles Clippers for a "long time" if championships are won as the new head coach embraces pressure of success.

    Lue will lead the Clippers in 2020-21 after replacing Doc Rivers following the team's stunning Western Conference semi-final exit in the NBA playoffs.

    The Clippers were one of the favourites to claim their maiden title following the arrivals of Leonard and George but squandered a 3-1 lead against the Denver Nuggets at Walt Disney World Resort amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    After going all-in to build a super team to outshine LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers – who reigned supreme in the Orlando bubble – pressure will again be on the Clippers to deliver a championship as time runs out.

    "Any time you have a chance to win a championship, it's pressure," Lue told ESPN's 'The Jump' in an interview to be aired Thursday.

    "And, I think Kawhi, PG are here to stay for a long time. We just gotta make it a great environment and we have to win."

    Lue fronted the media for the first time since being appointed, stepping up to fill Rivers' void having served as an assistant for the Clippers in 2019-20.

    The 43-year-old Lue guided the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first championship in 2016 – a team headline by James.

    There were high hopes for the Clippers, boasting two-time champion Leonard, six-time All-Star George, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams but team chemistry and leadership derailed the Los Angeles franchise last term.

    The 2019-20 campaign was the ninth consecutive season the Clippers finished with a winning record (49-23) but failed to reach the Conference finals – the longest streak of its kind in NBA history, per Stats Perform.

    "I think when you talk about chemistry and continuity, it is not off the court, the guys not liking each other," Lue told reporters on Wednesday.

    "When you talk about chemistry, it is more so [George] came in and he had shoulder surgery, so he was out, he missed the whole training camp and was out the first 11 games of the season. Kawhi came in and couldn't participate in the whole training camp, and then we lost Pat Beverley, in and out of the lin-up a few times."

    One of the Clippers' biggest strengths is their bench, averaging over 50 points per game in each of the past two seasons – the only times any team have done that in the past 35 years.

    But in the playoffs this past season, the Clippers relied much more heavily on their starters as their bench averaged only 36.5 points per game in the postseason.

    With the Clippers built to win now, their ageing roster also presents a problem. They are one of the oldest teams in the league, fourth and only behind the Houston Rockets (30 years, 179 days), Milwaukee Bucks (29 years, 321 days) and Lakers (29 years, 201 days) with an average of 28 years and 153 days.

    "Leadership is different," Lue said. "You can talk about our two players, Kawhi and PG, they lead by example ... And you are not going to have the best players be the natural leaders at all times. It doesn't happen like that. I think a lot of leadership has to come from me, has to come from Kawhi, PG, Lou and Pat Beverley. It's going to be collective.

    "I got to show them different ways of leadership and they got to show me different ways of leadership. I don't know everything. They don't know everything ... The biggest thing about leadership is just communication."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.