NBA

Celtics are the only team this season to qualify for three-consecutive Conference Finals

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After wrapping up their semifinal series against Cleveland with last weekend’s 113-98 victory in Game 6, Boston is more confident than ever in their ability to contend for the NBA title, as they’ve qualified for the Eastern Conference Finals for a third year in a row. They are the only team this season who has achieved this feat, giving them an extra push towards the championship.

Despite some fans suggesting that the Celtics were only able to beat the Cavaliers because Donovan Mitchell fell to injury, it is important to mention that they played the entire series without starting big man Kristaps Porzingis, who continues to recover from his calf strain pains.

Jayson Tatum, who will be making his fifth trip to the ECF, believes they well deserve to be there. “People might think that it’s a given that we’re supposed to be here,” the All-Star said. “I give a lot of credit to everybody in the front office, the coaching staff, the trainers, the guys that hand out the equipment, the ball boys, the cooks, the chefs, security team. We’re all in this together.”

The Boston forwards has been special these playoffs, especially as his rebounding stats are up from his 8.1 per contest during regular season. The 26-year-old has been averaging 24.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game so far.

Throughout this campaign, the Celtics’ game has been characterized by playing as a team and leaving their individualities at home. ”We understand what we can do individually,” Tatum explained.

The superstar then added: “Each night just kind of presents different challenges and being ready and up for the task to do whatever is needed because both of us are capable on the basketball court to do literally everything.”

As of now, the NBA-leading record has won their past three games, and will be facing none other than the Pacers who finally beat the Knicks this Sunday in the other semifinal Game 7. The first clash will be this Tuesday at 5pm (ET) at TD Garden.

Tatum explained why the locker room’s energy has been his biggest inspiration as they hope to win Boston’s first title in 15 years

The five-time All-Star recently admitted that when he saw Al Horford pumping up the audience and chasing down loose balls at age 37, he felt extra motivated to give the extra mile for his team. On the other hand, the veteran said that he’s simply responding to the energy given by the Massachusetts fans.

“It’s special when you’re here at the Garden. It’s something that I don’t take for granted,” Horford expressed. “I just felt very connected with them tonight. … There were just a few times I wanted to be embraced by that moment.”

Despite missing Porzingis, Al said that the team is rest assured whenever Tatum and Brown lead the squad. “No matter what gets thrown at them, things that people want to talk about, criticize, our guys continue to work. They continue to think of what’s best for our group,” he said. “This year that’s been very obvious.”

However, the veteran also gave credit to his coach Joe Mazzulla, who he says found his voice this campaign. “Just as a leader of our group. We follow him,” Horford shared. “He demands a lot from us. And we’re right there. We’re plugging away. And we know we still have a ways to go.”