Boston Celtics

How Tatum, Brown impressed Celtics legend Kevin McHale in playoffs

"I thought (Tatum and Brown) matured a lot."

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Kevin McHale knows what it takes to win an NBA championship.

He played 13 seasons with the Celtics from 1980-81 through 1992-93 and won three titles in Boston. He was one of the best players of his era and, in addition to having his No. 32 retired to the rafters at TD Garden, is also a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.

McHale did an interview Monday on SiriusXM NBA Radio and talked about the evolution and growth that Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown showed this season, especially during Boston's impressive playoff run that ended with an NBA Finals triumph over the Dallas Mavericks for the franchise's 18th title.

“I thought (Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown) matured a lot,” McHale told co-hosts Frank Isola and Brian Scalabrine.

Tatum didn't have the best shooting performance against the Mavericks in the Finals. He shot just 38.8 percent from the field and 26.3 percent from 3-point range. But the superstar forward didn't let his poor shooting nights negatively impact other aspects of his game. Whether it was rebounding, dishing out lots of assists or playing great defense, Tatum found ways to contribute to winning. Tatum and Brown consistently made the right play, which impressed McHale.

"(Tatum) just made passes and I was like, ‘Wow, all right. So you’re playing the flow of the game,'" McHale explained. "You’re not playing for your numbers, you’re not playing for all those things. You’re playing for the flow of the game, and the flow of the game just dictates where the ball rolls.

"And I thought Brown and Tatum finally got to the point of not playing the numbers, ‘I gotta get my numbers. I gotta do this. I gotta do that.’ They just played flow basketball. I was just so happy and proud of those guys.” 

The next challenge for Tatum and Brown is going into next season with the same championship hunger and motivation to prove the doubters wrong. McHale and the Celtics had some great teams in the 1980s, but one feat they never achieved was repeating as champions.

The last team to win back-to-back titles was the Golden State Warriors in 2017 and 2018. Repeating as champs will be a tough task for the Celtics, but they should still be one of the top contenders next season, assuming they bring back most of their championship roster.

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