Seemingly every game the Boston Celtics play, Jayson Tatum finds another way to turn heads with his remarkable skill and athleticism.
But in Saturday’s 87-85 win over the Brooklyn Nets, what stood out even more was the 19-year-old’s maturity.
The rookie put up six blocks, the most by any Celtic this season, also grabbing as many rebounds, while dropping 14 points, half of which came in the final quarter. And it was those final points that showed just how confident the Duke product is mere months into his NBA career.
In the last 90 seconds of the game, Tatum scored five points, with the first pair coming from a dunk.
Take a look at the slam:
What’s stands out is the situation the dunk came in. Down by one point in a pivotal moment in the game, Tatum didn’t balk for a second when he got the pass from Kyrie Irving. He crashed to the rim — all the while paying no mind to the three defenders either darting to him or already guarding him — and dunked with authority.
That lack of taciturnity around the rim is something that can take some players years to develop. For Tatum, reticence, regardless of the situation, never seems to be on the radar.
And while plenty can be made of his raw skill, a lot of it clearly stems from a healthy amount of confidence in himself, which further was affirmed the next time down the floor.
After getting another pass from Irving, Tatum hit what ultimately proved to be a decisive 3-pointer.
Sure, it was a wide-open shot, but to that point, Tatum was coming off what had otherwise been an underwhelming night offensively. Tatum had shot 3-for-10 from the field through the first three quarters, but when the moment necessitated it — and what he had previously done in the game didn’t matter — he answered.
“He’s not scared of the moment, never has been,” said head coach Brad Stevens, via the Celtics’ official Twitter account.
While it ultimately is his performance that matters, he clearly is assimilating well in terms of maturity and as a professional. And on nights like Saturday, it is apparent that is translating to what the rookie is doing on the court.
Here are some other notes from Celtics-Nets:
— Al Horford missed Saturday’s game with what was described as a calf injury. He participated in some pregame warmups, but didn’t feel ready to go.
— Boston’s six-game win streak is the longest active streak in the NBA.
— The Celtics have held opponents to under 90 points in three consecutive games.
— Daniel Theis grabbed 10 rebounds in back-to-back games for the first time in his NBA career.
Thumbnail photo via Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports Images.