“They Haven’t Been Battle Tested” | Former Miami Heat Legend Udonis Haslem Thinks Jayson Tatum’s Celtics Continue To Underachieve

Jayson Tatum’s Boston Celtics punched their ticket to their third consecutive Eastern Conference Finals and sixth in eight years with a five-game series win over a depleted Cleveland Cavaliers squad, who, while game, just didn’t have enough. That followed a five-game series win over the Jimmy Butler-less Miami Heat in the first round. In each series the Celtics had their moments, but with the Cavs missing starting center Jarrett Allen the entire series and All-Star Donovan Mitchell the final two games, it was a forgone conclusion that the series would be short. 

The same can be said for their win over the Heat, and while it’s all about surviving and advancing each round, the 64-win Celtics haven’t been impressive this postseason. In fact they’ve been so unimpressive that former Miami Heat legend Udonis Haslem, who had his fair share of battles with the Celtics, says they haven’t been “battle tested.” 

UD Talks Celtics On ESPN 

Since retirement Haslem has entered the podcast world, and now he’s become an in-studio guest on “NBA Today” on ESPN. There he gives his opinion on everything related to the playoffs. When asked about the Celtics being the heavy favorite in the Eastern Conference, Haslem didn’t hesitate to say they are and should be, but he did question if they have or will be pushed by any team in the conference. 

He mentioned that not having to face much adversity during their playoff run could come back to hurt them if they reach the Finals.

“The Celtics haven’t been battle-tested yet. I don’t know if you want to get battle-tested in the Finals by the Nuggets or the Timberwolves. It might be too late.”

Haslem is onto something, because the Celtics have been able to just kind of show up and win because they’re healthier and more talented than any team in the Eastern Conference. Even when they’ve struggled to shoot, they’re still able to overcome that because of their talent. In addition, star player Jayson Tatum hasn’t been great this postseason either, shooting just 43 percent from the field and 28 percent from three. 

While his averages are still solid with 24 points, 11 rebounds and six assists per game, the shooting needs to be better. 

Joe Mazzulla Under Pressure, Team Needs Kristaps Porzingis

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla is under pressure to bring Beantown its first NBA title since 2008, and just its second since 1986. Back in April, Mazzulla who replaced former head coach Ime Udoka prior to the 2022-23 season told reporters that he embraces the pressure and “wouldn’t have it any other way.” Sounds like a confident coach, but if he doesn’t unlock his stagnant offense that relies solely on shooting the three, he might not be back next year if they don’t win it all. 

If the Celtics expect to raise banner No. 18 which would break the tie with Los Angeles Lakers for most ever. In order to do so the Celtics will need a healthy Kristaps Porzingis whose ability to stretch the floor (38 percent from three) and protect the rim (two blocks per game) will be needed against whoever comes out of the Western Conference. 

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