Celtics Pregame Live

Brad Stevens ‘not losing sleep' over criticism of Tatum's playoff stats

"We'll keep him, let's put it that way."

NBC Universal, Inc.

Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum entered Tuesday averaging 21.2 points per game this postseason, third on the roster through the first six games of their 2024 playoff campaign. Some criticism of the five-time All-Star has been vocalized across social media, but no one could be less concerned than Brad Stevens.

The Celtics' president of basketball of operations joined NBC Sports Boston's Celtics Pregame Live and reiterated his confidence in the 26-year-old.

"There are a lot of things in this job that I lose sleep over -- what someone thinks about Jayson Tatum or Jayson Tatum playing well is not one," Stevens said. "We'll keep him, let's put it that way."

Shifting the focus away from scoring, Stevens pointed out how Tatum has contributed in other ways, most importantly in finding ways to help his teammates around him succeed.

"At the end of the day, the best thing that you can be called as a player is someone who makes the game easier for the other four guys that are playing with you," Stevens added. "If you can bring out the best in those guys and be elite, that's pretty special, and I don't think you have to look far to see the numbers -- both individually and collectively -- that support that."

With an NBA-best plus/minus of +96 in the postseason, there is no denying Tatum's impact on winning. While his scoring numbers have dropped from the regular season by about six points per game, the 2017 third overall selection is leading the team in both rebounds (10.5) and assists (5.3) per game this postseason.

"In six games, which everybody would say that's a small sample," Stevens responded to Brian Scalabrine when discussing the drop in scoring stats. "He's got so much foundation of meeting the moment and being great in the moment, and I realize because he's been in the moment -- and been in the biggest moments -- he's going to be nit-picked, and that's okay. That's part of being one of those guys."

Stevens went on to say that players are often criticized based off numbers on the stat sheet, rather than the overall impact they've had on the game. Tatum's 25 percent shooting from deep can be easy to call out on a stat sheet, but what won't be shown is how effective of a distributor he's been, finding the open man with ease while limiting turnovers.

"Our team has followed the lead all year of 'we're just playing to win' and that's all that matters," Stevens added. "It's got to start with [Tatum], it's got to start with Jaylen [Brown]. It's got to start with those guys because those guys are looked up to in our locker room because they've done it on this stage."

You can watch Brad Stevens' full interview from NBC Sports Boston's Celtics Pregame Live on YouTube below.

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