Following the Celtics‘ dramatic victory over the Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday, Jayson Tatum was named the Most Valuable Player of the series, making him the first-ever winner of the Larry Bird Trophy, according to the league (Twitter press release).
The NBA introduced the award earlier this month in an effort to honor the players who played crucial roles in leading their teams to the Finals. Last week, Warriors star Stephen Curry became the first player to win the Magic Johnson Trophy award as the MVP of the Western Conference Finals.
Tatum averaged 25.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game over the course of the seven-game series vs. Miami, playing big minutes (40.8 MPG) and putting up a shooting line of .462/.353/.860. He only had one poor performance in the series, when he scored just 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting and turned the ball over six times in Game 3. He scored at least 22 points in the other six games.
The award was voted on by nine local and national media members who were covering the series. Tatum earned eight of nine votes, with Heat star Jimmy Butler receiving the only other vote, from ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.
Butler averaged 25.6 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 3.4 APG, and 2.0 SPG, and looked like the best player on the court in several games of the series — he was limited by a knee injury and scored just 27 total points from Games 3 to 5, but averaged 38.0 PPG in Games 1, 2, 6, and 7. He likely would’ve been the unanimous MVP pick if Miami had won the series.
Tatum will look to carry over his Eastern Finals success into the NBA Finals vs. the Warriors. The series will tip off in Golden State on Thursday — the full schedule can be found right here.