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Celtics’ Jayson Tatum Explains Why He Wanted to Face Heat in NBA Playoffs 1st Round | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

Written by on May 2, 2024

Danielle Parhizkaran/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum says his team was “relaxed” during last season’s first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, and that he wanted to start out the 2024 playoffs with a more intense round against the Miami Heat.

Tatum got his wish, leading to the Celtics’ Wednesday night elimination of the Heat with a 118-84 Game 5 win.

“I wanted to play Miami in the sense that, maybe last year, playing against Atlanta, we might have relaxed a little bit,” Tatum said after the victory. “Knowing the history… with Miami, how hard they play, how well-coached they are, that, for a first-round matchup, regardless of the seed, that we were going to have to be ready to play and be ready to fight.”

Bobby Krivitsky @BobbyKrivitsky

Jayson Tatum says he made up his mind that the Celtics would draw the Heat in Round 1 and that he wanted to play them, noting they didn’t have enough of an edge against the Hawks in the first round last postseason. pic.twitter.com/e34R50WTC3

Last year the Celtics began the playoffs by defeating the Atlanta Hawks in six games.

Boston had the chance to close out the first-round series in Game 5 at home, but lost in a two-point heartbreaker and were forced to return to Atlanta for a victorious Game 6.

The Celtics then defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in seven games to make it to the conference semifinals, where they suffered a 4-3 series loss to Miami.

Tatum and the Celtics will hope their successful revenge against Heat will now help Boston make a deeper run in 2024 as the team looks to return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2022.

Boston’s next opponent will be either the Cleveland Cavaliers or Orlando Magic. The Cavaliers currently hold a 3-2 first-round series lead and have the chance to close out the series Friday with a Game 6 win in Orlando.

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