BOSTON — Jayson Tatum leading the Boston Celtics to a 2-0 lead in their second-round NBA playoff series was like rubbing salt in the wounds of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Tatum, who the Celtics selected with the No. 3 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft — a pick obtained in a trade with the 76ers that also netted Boston another potential lottery pick — scored 21 points on 50 percent shooting Thursday night at TD Garden as the C’s beat the Sixers 108-103 in Game 2.
All of this happened while the player Philly selected with the No. 1 pick acquired from the Celtics, Markelle Fultz, sat on the bench and earned his second DNP-coach’s decision of the series.
Tatum forged his place into the record books with his Game 2 performance.
He’s the first Celtics rookie since Larry Bird to score 20-plus points in four straight playoff games, and he also bested a mark set by future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant.
Not only did Tatum make the Fultz trade look even worse, he outplayed the likely Rookie of the Year winner Ben Simmons as well. The 76ers point guard scored only a single point and missed all four of his shot attempts in a lackluster performance.
Tatum has played very well during his rookie season. He’s scoring and defending at a high level
on a consistent basis, but perhaps more impressive is his composure and good decision-making in crunch time.
The Duke product is not afraid of the moment, and he’ll probably have plenty more of them before this Celtics playoff run is over.