'Partners in crime:' Boston Celtics stud duo proves doubters wrong en route to NBA title

BOSTON — Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are not a dynamic duo. That would imply that one is Batman and one is Robin, that one is the hero and the other is the sidekick.

Rather, as Brown put it, the two are “partners in crime.” They’ve always been great individually, but now they’ve proven they can be great together. Sure, their dynamic is unorthodox. But you have to admit it works.

Now, they have an NBA title to prove it. Despite Tatum’s supreme skills — few in the NBA can match his combined scoring prowess, offensive creativity and abilities on the defensive end — Brown feels like the engine that keeps the Celtics running. He makes the big shot when his team needs it. Emotionally, Boston goes as Brown goes.

For many of the seven seasons they’ve played together, onlookers have thought this could present a problem. After all, only one player can be “the guy,” right?

Wrong.

The Boston Celtics have proved the functionality of their team structure. They dominated teams all season. They cruised through the playoffs. And they finished it off with a definitive statement win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

“This was a full team effort,” Brown said. “We came out and just performed on our home floor."

'Partners in crime:' Boston Celtics stud duo proves doubters wrong en route to NBA title

Tatum and Brown absolutely owned the floor on Monday night. Tatum had his best game of the Finals in Game 5, scoring 31 points to go along with 11 assists and eight rebounds. Brown wasn’t far behind, totaling 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Tatum (22.2 points per game) and Brown (20.8) led the Celtics in NBA Finals scoring. Tatum, who also edged Brown slightly in both rebounds and assists, impacted the series in multiple ways while he struggled to consistently make shots. Brown, who was named Finals MVP, seemed to always come up with the timely buckets in the meantime.

"(The Finals MVP) could have gone to Jayson," Brown said. "I can’t talk enough about his selflessness and attitude. We did it together, and that was the most important thing.”

The pair played off one another in a way they hadn’t before this season. Perhaps that can be attributed to familiarity. Maybe maturity.

Whatever the case, it was a sight to behold — and a matchup to beware for the rest of the NBA.

“We’ve been through a lot,” Brown said of his relationship with Tatum. “The losses, the expectations, the media. People saying we can’t play together, we can’t win. We just blacked it out. He trusted me and I trusted him. And we did it together.”

The championship is a culmination for Tatum and Brown after years of external uncertainty that the two could coexist.

The duo fell short in the 2022 Finals to the Golden State Warriors. They failed to advance past the Miami Heat in last year’s Eastern Conference Final. On both occasions, they were eliminated at home.

Many in Boston wondered whether the Celtics would move on from Brown instead of signing him to a record, five-year supermax extension just 11 months ago.

“They get scturinized so much,” Jrue Holiday said of Tatum and Brown. “They get so much pressure put on them for not winning and not getting over that hump. People can finally see the relationship they have. From the beginning, they’ve always done it together. Hopefully (the championship) is a burden off of their shoulders.

“Another burden is doing it again.”

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