Boston Celtics

This aspect of Tatum's playoff run really impressed rival coaches

Tatum dominated in many different facets during the Celtics' championship run.

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The Boston Celtics didn't need Jayson Tatum to score 30 points per game to march through the 2024 NBA playoffs and win their first championship since 2008.

The Celtics have so much depth and so many guys who are capable of scoring 20-plus points on a given night.

Tatum didn't shoot at a high level in the postseason. He shot 42.7 percent from the field and just 28.3 percent from 3-point range over 19 playoff games this spring. Despite those lackluster percentages, Tatum still averaged 25 points per game. But more importantly, he contributed to winning in many other areas.

In addition to leading the Celtics in scoring during the playoffs, he also ranked No. 1 on the team in rebounds (9.7) and assists (6.3) per game. He also played very well defensively -- guarding multiple positions and ranking second on the team at 1.1 steals per game.

Tatum's ability to impact the game in a major way, even on rough shooting nights, was proof of the growth he's made as a player since his rookie campaign in 2017-18.

In fact, one of the coaches at USA Basketball praised Tatum for this aspect of his growth.

"Earlier in my career, I was so defined -- or wanted to be defined -- by scoring," Tatum said on the most recent episode of the Old Man & the Three podcast. "If I would have off-shooting nights, it would affect other things that I was doing on the court.

"I had my first practice today at USA Basketball. I won't say his name, but one of the coaches came up to me and said him and a lot of other coaches watched throughout the playoffs and were so impressed by my willingness to dominate in all areas. And the nights I wasn't shooting well, could I get 14 rebounds, could I get eight assists, could I guard the big man?

"To see my growth from early in my career when I would, for the lack of a better word, maybe shut down or be frustrated about that, instead of trying to figure out other ways to win; for him to come and tell me that, it meant a lot."

Tatum tallied 10-plus rebounds in 12 of the Celtics' 19 playoff games and had 10-plus assists or 10-plus rebounds (or both) in 14 of 19 games.

A lot of young players let their scoring (or lack thereof) impact them in a negative way, especially when the pressure mounts in the postseason. The Celtics don't have that problem with any of their players. It's a very unselfish team, and that was evident in how they played all year en route to a league-best 64-18 regular season record and a dominant 16-3 playoff run that culminated with a title.

When the best players -- Tatum and Jaylen Brown -- play this way, it's contagious and filters down to the entire group.

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