Tatum averaged 21.5 points per game shooting at 36.2 percent from the field, with 23 turnovers throughout the 4-2 series loss to the Golden State Warriors.
The small forward’s scoring output was down on his regular season average of 26.9 points per game, shooting at 45.3 per cent.
Tatum was unable to arrest the Warriors’ momentum in the NBA Finals, leading to some criticism despite leading the Celtics to postseason series wins over the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat.
“This guy gave us everything he had,” Stevens told reporters on Tuesday. “When you look at the minutes, when you look at the games played… I’ve said this many times: He’s a superstar that doesn’t want to sit. He wants to play, he wants to play all the time.
“I thought that in the Finals, he would be the first to say that he would like to have some of those moments back, but I thought there were other contributing factors to how he played.”
Stevens, who coached Boston from 2013 to 2021, had a simple message for Tatum when he signed off for the 2021-22 season too.
“I just told him to go on vacation,” Stevens said. “Go get some rest.”
The Celtics boss added that 24-year-old Tatum’s remarkable performance in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, when he scored 46 points in Game 6 against the reigning champions Bucks when facing elimination shouldnt be forgotten.
“When you start looking at it objectively and more so historically, what Jayson and Jaylen (Brown) have done in the playoffs, historically at their ages, is rarified air,” Stevens said.
“I think we’re very cognizant of the fact that even though Jayson would admittedly not have played his best series, there’s no chance we’re there without him and without all of his great play all the way through.
“I think back to all of the times… Game 6 in Milwaukee was one of the best games I’ve seen an individual play in my time, certainly in person and with the Celtics. Without that performance, we would have had this discussion a month and a half ago.”