Jayson Tatum highlights one key difference between 2023-24 Boston Celtics and previous Cs teams: EXCLUSIVE

Jayson Tatum has played for plenty of loaded teams since starting his career with the Celtics in 2017, but in an exclusive with Hardwood Houdini, Tatum revealed what makes this one stand out from the previous Celtics teams he's played for.
Boston Celtics v Dallas Mavericks
Boston Celtics v Dallas Mavericks / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

Something feels different about the Boston Celtics this year.

It's true that, ever since the Jayson Tatum era started, the Celtics have been routinely among the better teams in the league. They've made the Eastern Conference Finals four times in six seasons thus far during Tatum's Cs tenure. So it's kind of hard to explain why it feels like they've reached another level.

After their win against the Dallas Mavericks on January 22, Celtics superfan Dan Greenberg may have explained it with three objective facts on his X account.

While those facts are indisputable, there seems to be more to it than that, according to Tatum himself. In an exclusive interview with Hardwood Houdini's Andrew Hughes -- in promotion of the #RufflesRidgelineChallenge ahead of the 2024 Ruffles NBA All-Star Celebrity Game --, Tatum explained why the 2023-24 Celtics feel different compared to the other Celtics teams he's played for.

“So, not to say that any other team wasn't talented, but I would say, this is the most talented team I've I've been on," Tatum prefaced before saying, "And, maybe, like the smartest team. More often than not, everybody's aware of what we're trying to do. Not every single possession, but 90% of the time, we know what we're trying to do, know who we're trying to attack, what shot we're trying to get connected on defense. We just got everybody, most of the time, all five guys on the court can dribble pass and shoot. So we’re hard to double.”

Something also to keep in mind is that Tatum once played for a team that had prime Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, and Al Horford, along with young Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, and Marcus Smart. That team never meshed with each other despite its gluttony of firepower on the court. Hayward himself attributed that team's failure to everyone's individual agendas getting in the way of the team's goals; which Tatum agreed with. It's one thing to have talent. It's another to know how to use it.

This Boston Celtics team knows how to use the talent it has.

It's also not that difficult to see exactly what Tatum's getting at. There have been times when it just looks too easy for the Celtics when they take the floor. Take the first few minutes of their Christmas Day matchup against the Lakers in 2023.

While that can be attributed somewhat to the Lakers' overall mediocrity as a team, the Celtics have consistently established their dominance throughout the season. They have the highest net rating of any team in the NBA, sporting a plus-9.7 net rating, per NBA.com. It's worth noting that they are 1.3 points per possession better than no. 2 in that category. While Tatum praised this Celtics team for its talent and IQ, Al Horford believes there's another key difference with Boston this year.

Al Horford reveals another key difference with 2023-24 Boston Celtics

Back in November 2023, Al Horford revealed to me in an exclusive interview with Heavy Sports what has stood out to him about this Celtics team.

“The thing that I’ve been impressed with so far with this team is that it doesn’t matter what Joe (Mazzulla) has thrown at us as a team,” Horford said. “We’ve taken that challenge, and we’ve responded, and to me, that’s a very positive sign, and looking at this group, and this group of guys, like everybody wants to be great.”

Horford added that because everyone wants to be great, they're taking the necessary steps to achieve greatness.

“They are willing to be criticized," Horford prefaced before saying, "They’re willing to learn. There’s like that willingness, and that’s just been good to see with this group. Guys are being challenged. Guys are being pushed. And we’re really trying to be the best that we can.

“I think there’s an understanding of really taking advantage and making the most out of this opportunity that we have right now. So I feel like that’s the biggest difference.”

The Boston Celtics have achieved quite a lot over the past several years, but they don't want to be remembered as the team that was consistently in the conversation but never got over the hump. If this team really is as Tatum and Horford describe them, then this Celtics team may escape the "Good, but just not good enough" category they're desperately trying to escape.