Celtics’ Jayson Tatum fires back at ‘superteam’ talk after Game 2 loss to Cavs

Tony Nguyen | Boston Celtics
May 10, 2024

The term “superteam” gets thrown around a lot, especially online and on TV. Some have even used that phrase to describe the 2023-24 Boston Celtics.

However, Celtics star Jayson Tatum denied the claim that his squad is a “superteam.” Rather, they’re a talented bunch who can compete with the best the NBA has to offer — but far from unbeatable.

“I mean, that’s the narrative that you might see on TV. The idea that we have a ‘superteam,’” Tatum said. “It’s twofold, right? We didn’t have Coach of the Year. We didn’t have MVP. We only had two All-Stars. So they say we’re a ‘superteam,’ but we didn’t get awarded like we are. We know we got a good team. We’re not perfect. We play the right way, more often than not.”

On Thursday night, the Celtics didn’t resemble a “superteam” at all. They shot 22.9% from beyond the arc and were crushed 118-94 at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Tatum finished with 25 points on 7-for-17 shooting from the field. Following the 24-point defeat, Boston fell to an underwhelming 3-2 at home in the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

“We know we gotta be better,” Tatum admitted after the Cavs evened up the series at 1-1. “We just gotta go out there and control what we can control.”

How Jayson Tatum, Celtics plan to bounce back

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) and guard Jaylen Brown (7) react after a play against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first quarter during game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at TD Garden.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

In the first round of the postseason, Boston also faltered in Game 2 at TD Garden. The C’s were upset by the eighth-seeded Miami Heat and lost 111-101.

Although this surprising stumble was disheartening, the Celtics didn’t panic. They responded by winning the next two games in Miami and then closed out the series in Game 5, destroying the Heat 118-84.

To beat Cleveland, the Celtics will have to be even sharper. The Cavs are healthier than Miami and have a star scorer in Donovan Mitchell.

He made some tough shots tonight,” Celtics star Jaylen Brown said of Mitchell’s 29-point performance. “We’ve gotta be up. But he’s a basketball player. We’ve gotta have a little bit more alertness to him. We’ve just got to take that challenge. Tonight, he got the best of us, he made some tough baskets. Felt free to get downhill. We’ve just got to keep making it tough.”

Like Tatum, Brown went 7-for-17 from the floor and struggled from 3-point land. He, and the rest of the Green Team, will have to have a better 3-point conversion rate than 8-for-35 to take the Cavs down in Game 3 on Saturday night.

Lot of things we can learn from,” Tatum stated after the home letdown. “World thinks we’re never supposed to lose and we’re supposed to win every game by 25. And it’s just not gonna be like that all the time. We don’t expect it to be easy. This a good team we playing, it’s the second round of the playoffs. It’s gonna be fun, the rest of the series, especially come Saturday. But, you know, we bounced back plenty of times. We lost what, [18] games this year? So I’d like to think that we responded pretty well every time we did lose.”

Tatum and Brown have played in over 100 playoff games, so this kind of situation isn’t anything new. Yet, that doesn’t mean the Celtics can relax. The Cavs have won all four of their home games this postseason and have rowdy fans who are hungry for their first real taste of playoff success since the departure of LeBron James in 2018.

“We have to understand that we’re going into Saturday into a hostile place, and it’s going to be a battle,” Celtics center Al Horford said, via NBC Sports Boston. “I know they’re going to be ready for us and we have to make sure that we’re locked in.”

Boston will need its stars to step up and the rest of the roster to follow suit for Game 3. If the Celtics can have that, on both ends of the floor, they’ll get a fair shot at a bounce-back victory.