BOSTON — Jayson Tatum was tremendous in the Boston Celtics’ NBA Playoff first-round Game 2 win over the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night at TD Garden, finishing with 26 points on 11-of-20 shooting.
For a second-year player, you’d think this easily would be a playoff milestone. That’s not the case for the 21-year-old Duke product.
Tatum scored 28 points in Game 1 of the 2018 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers to kick off the Celtics’ 4-1 series win over their Atlantic Division rivals. So Thursday wasn’t Tatum’s best performance from a scoring perspective, but it still was pretty impressive.
In his first two postseason games this year, Tatum is averaging 20.5 points on 54.8 percent shooting (6-of-9 from 3-point territory). The Celtics wing clearly brings it come playoff time, but what makes him kick it up to the next level?
“Yeah, I just get really excited,” Tatum said after Boston’s Game 2 win. “It’s the best time of year for basketball. It’s the most important time of the year, so you got to try to be your best. Be aggressive because every game really counts.”
Tatum was perfectly aggressive Wednesday night, but was also incredibly patient, especially for a player of his age. This showed more than ever on his drive to the hoop with 12.1 seconds left. Instead of flying at the rim and risking an errant layup, the 21-year-old slowed down, showed incredible patience, and let the play develop. Within seconds, Gordon Hayward cut along the baseline. Tatum found him for the wide open bucket, which put the Celtics up 94-91.
This particular play was a prime example of Tatum’s maturity, which also can be shown in his postgame answers.
“We were down 12 going into the fourth, but in the playoffs you don’t win quickly or lose quickly. It’s a long game and we needed everybody out there.”
For Danny Ainge, that kind of response from the star 21-year-old must be music to his ears.
Jayson wasn’t the only member of the Tatum family sounding off after the win. His 15-month-old son, Deuce, joined him at the podium, much to the delight of every reporter in the room. Check out the duo below:
The Tatum’s put together quite the performance Wednesday night.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images