Kevin Durant Praises 'Elite' Jayson Tatum: 'It Was An Honor To Play Against Him'

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJune 5, 2021

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) looks to shoot while being defended by Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant in the first half of Game 5 during an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photo/Adam Hunger

The Brooklyn Nets defeated the Boston Celtics in five games during the first-round matchup, but Jayson Tatum still impressed his opponents.

Nets star Kevin Durant gave high praise to Tatum when he discussed the series:

Boardroom @boardroom

“He was a tough, tough cover.”@KDTrey5 reflects on the Nets/Celtics series + @jaytatum0’s incredible performance on a special YouTube-only edition of #TheEtcs. <br><br>“He’s that elite level of player already at 23…it was an honor to play against them.”<br><br>🎥: https://t.co/DbFjs1DslE pic.twitter.com/jNYqgxWTQW

Durant put Tatum in the conversation of the best players he has faced in a playoff series, along with Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Tim Duncan. The 23-year-old was honored by the words:

Jayson Tatum @jaytatum0

Earning the respect of guys you looked up to💯 https://t.co/RaJBCAjWw4

Tatum averaged 30.6 points per game for the Celtics in the playoffs, including a 50-point effort in a Game 3 win. He also scored 40 in a loss during Game 4.

The fourth-year player was already in the best season of his NBA career, averaging 26.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game on the way to his second straight All-Star selection.

The Celtics, unfortunately, had inconsistent production outside of Tatum and Jaylen Brown all year long. With Brown suffering a season-ending wrist injury, the Celtics became major long shots to make a deep run in the playoffs.

A first-round matchup with the Nets made things even tougher thanks to the presence of Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. The trio averaged 85.2 points per game in the series and will be difficult to stop this postseason.

Tatum and the Celtics couldn't keep up, but the forward did enough to gain the respect and admiration of his peers.