Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic believes that there’s a distinct difference between facing the Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum and the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo due to the available talent Tatum has at his disposal.
Dragic spoke about how Antetokounmpo was effectively neutralized by the Heat during their five-game playoff series, largely due to the lack of contributing support from his Bucks teammates. That’s in contrast to Tatum’s ability to rely on teammates such as Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown.
“I still think Giannis doesn’t have so much help,” Dragic said, via Jay King of The Athletic. “Tatum, if you look, he’s got around (him) Kemba and Brown. He’s the leader of that team, no doubt. We need to prepare for him, but we cannot just throw out the whole defense at him and forget about other guys.”
Tatum and the Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference finals after knocking out the defending champion Toronto Raptors in Game 7 of their series by a score of 92-87.
The talent of Tatum has been in evidence for years, with the Celtics having selected him as the third overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
During his third season in the league this season, Tatum took a major step forward by averaging 23.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.4 steals per game during the regular season, all career-high numbers.
In the Celtics’ 11 playoff games this season, Tatum has kept up much of that performance level, with per-game averages of 25.3 points and 10.1 rebounds for each contest.
As talented as the Celtics are, the Heat have quickly developed into formidable postseason challengers, winning eight of their nine contests.
The 34-year-old Dragic has started each of those nine games, averaging 21.1 points, 4.7 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. He’s also knocked down 24 shots from beyond the arc, connecting at a 38.1 percent rate.
The Heat and Celtics get their series started on Tuesday night, with the Heat hoping to reach the NBA Finals for the first time in six years.