Now that the Boston Celtics have officially made it to the NBA Finals, sweeping the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals, the conversation now starts on if the team can get over the hump and win their first title since 2008. However, sports analyst Zach Lowe had some concerns on Celtics star Jayson Tatum heading into the championship series where they are likely facing the Dallas Mavericks who have a 3-0 series lead over the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference Finals.

Talking about Tatum who has always been in conversations as being one of the league's best players, Lowe would express on his podcast called “Hoop Collective” that he may not be in the top five. He would say that the “formula” of Boston is that from top to bottom, they arguably have the best team in the association.

“That's the formula of the Celtics, we may not have a top four or five player, we don't have a Giannis, a Jokic, or an Embiid whatever but we have like five top fifty (players),” Lowe said. “You know wherever you rank there guys I mean it's five really, really, really, good players and that's a very powerful, powerful formula.”

Lowe said Tatum is a “great player,” but is not top five

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) during the fourth quarter during game four of the eastern conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Judging by the statistics and accomplishments, Tatum could very well be in the discussion for being a top five player in the NBA as he finished fifth in MVP voting and averaged 26.9 points. 8.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game while shooting 47.1 percent from the field. Lowe would say he is a “great player,” but would double down that “he's not one of the five best players in the NBA.”

“Jayson Tatum is a great player, like I don’t really get all the, I mean I get some of the angst,” Lowe said. “Like he settles for some bad shots now and then, some of them go in some of them don’t, he’s not one of the five best players in the NBA, but he’s something around 7th, 8th, 9th, or 10th, 6th, I mean that’s pretty damn good. People want him to be better than that, and he’s not quite on the level of the top four or five guys and that’s fine.””

Lowe is not the only one to hold some reservations on Tatum since he has not won a championship despite being involved in six of the last seven Eastern Conference Finals. However, he has only made the title series once in 2022 and lost to the Golden State Warriors as Lowe expressed that Tatum is “not the best player in the series,” very likely implying that to be Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic.

“If they face the Mavs [Dallas] this will now finally be the series again where Tatum is indisputably not the best player in the series, the other team has the best player in the series. So that’ll be an interesting test for both him and the Celtics,” Lowe said.

Tatum talks about the Celtics' emotions and their last postseason

While the team is stacked around him, Tatum's stock will most surely rise if he wins a championship, especially if gets Finals MVP as he looks to at least maintain the level of play Doncic and Kyrie Irving can perform at. However, there seems to be no doubt that Tatum and Boston have the most pressure since they had a successful regular season where statistics point to them being one of the best teams of all time.

“The playoffs is like an emotional roller coaster,” Tatum said according to “Trying to find the balance between the wins and the losses, trying to stay even-keeled for however long you’re playing, is important. The team that does that best usually has a ton of success.”

There is also added pressure because of what happened in the prior season's postseason where they were upset by the eighth seed Miami Heat in the conference title, going down 0-3 in the series. While they would force a Game 7, they lost as Tatum said they “applied everything that we've learned to this season” and the results have shown.

“That playoff run was a lot of up and downs,” Tatum said. “Obviously, we fell short of the ultimate goal. Last year, we lost in the conference finals. I think we just applied everything that we’ve learned to this season and this postseason and it’s working really well.”

Celtics are a “different team” than last year per Jaylen Br0wn

Someone besides Tatum that will be crucial for the Celtics' success is Jaylen Brown, who just recently won Eastern Conference Finals MVP after averaging 29.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. Compared to last season, Brown said that “we're a different team than we were last year” according to Jay King of The Athletic.

“We feel like we’re a different team than we were last year and the year before that,” Brown said. “I know everybody wants to continue to kind of pigeonhole us to what was happening in the past but we’ve had a different team every single year, different coaches, we’ve had like three coaches in the last five years. And still people want to make it seem like it’s the same, it’s the same, it’s the same.”

“We didn’t skip no steps all season,” Brown continued. “I think we played the right way every single game. I thought everybody (was) accountable. And this is the byproduct.”

Boston is “not satisfied” with results just yet

While they swept the Pacers Monday night and are celebrating going back to the NBA Finals, the mindset from the locker room is that the job is not finished. Celtics veteran big-man Al Horford shared this sentiment when reflecting on their last championship run while saying Boston is “not satisfied.”

“The first Finals run was very challenging,” Horford said. “If you look at our route, that first-round series against Brooklyn was a hard fought series even though we swept them. Then seven-game series against Milwaukee, the champs, took them to the limit. And then right away seven-game series against Miami, literally two, three days off, having to play Golden State in the finals. It was a lot for our group. It was very overwhelming, and I feel like we were trying to catch on the whole time there.”

“For us, obviously, we’re not satisfied,” Horford said. “We’re enjoying this one tonight. Different than last year, I feel like our mindset is pretty clear. We understand what we need to do. We need to finish this.”

The Celtics now get to rest and plan for the most important series of each player and coaches careers as they play in the NBA Finals starting June 6. As mentioned before, it is likely to be the Mavericks as they are up 3-0 over the Timberwolves with Game 4 scheduled for Tuesday night as there has never been a team to come back from that big of a series deficit..