Following the game, Tatum was asked about playing against the Kawhi Leonard-Paul George duo and if he gets a little extra motivated for these matchups. “Yeah, especially if it’s somebody like me,” Tatum told ClutchPoints. “I’ve always looked up to Kawhi and PG. Especially PG. He’s one of my favorite players. That’s the opportunity to look for. Especially bright lights, big stage. You don’t want to back down. You know you want to compete and show them that you belong out here. Earn their respect, and I love competing against those guys, learning from them.”
After being informed of Tatum’s comments, George responded with a lighter side of himself, even acknowledging that he was put on a likely highlight for what won’t be the last time. “It wasn’t the first time I was on a Tatum highlight, and it won’t be the last, I’m sure,” George responded with a smile. “That’s part of the game, that’s part of the game. I don’t buy into that. My job was to continue on and try to win the game. “He’s special man, he’s a special talent. It says a lot about him when he has to go against myself, Pat, Kawhi, Moe and still pull his team together without Gordon in the lineup and still put up 30. It says a lot about his talent and his skill, but he’s good. He’s the reason the Celtics are off to the hot start they are.”
“Monty – he didn’t come apart,” Rivers told The Athletic. “He got stronger. He didn’t blame. He forgave. It just says a lot about him. He did a lot of soul searching. Something awful happened in his life, and that sent him on a path to soul search for how he could get better. But it’s funny — most people would have been bitter. Most people would have been woe is me, blame the world, blame God, blame everything. Monty went the opposite way. He started looking at how he could get better. It just takes an incredible man to get to that place.
That dunk and the game-ending block on Walker are reasons why George told ESPN that he has wanted to play alongside Leonard since 2017, when he asked the Indiana Pacers to trade him to San Antonio. The Spurs didn’t have enough assets to strike a deal, according to league sources. “I mean, that’s the Finals MVP, man,” George said of Leonard. “He knows when it’s time to take over. He’s been there and he’s won championships with multiple ballclubs, so he knows how to stomp and put that foot on opponents’ neck, and that’s what you saw him do tonight.”