For Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, ‘Toughest Moment’ Of Season Long Behind Him

The Celtics blew a big lead to the Knicks in January


May 30, 2022

In early January, the Boston Celtics experienced one of their worst defeats of the season against the New York Knicks.

The Celtics blew a 24-point, second-half lead and despite a strong contest on the final shot of the game by Jayson Tatum, it wasn’t enough to stop RJ Barrett from banking-in a game-winning 3-pointer.

The loss sent the Celtics tumbling to 18-21, and no one at that point had any thoughts of Boston reaching the NBA Finals. For Tatum, it was the lowest point in what was an immensely frustrating season up to the point for a talented squad that wasn’t anywhere close to playing to its potential.

“The toughest moment for me was blowing that 25-point lead against New York and RJ Barrett hit the game-winning shot over me,” Tatum said following Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday, per The Athletic’s Jay King.

While Tatum can recall the details of that deflating loss, it has become a fuzzy memory for Green Teamers due to the way the Celtics have played since that monumental setback.

The Celtics are now a resilient group that finds way to win instead of discovering new ways to lose, as they did on a routine basis during the early part of the season. Boston’s ability to persevere has led to an improbable run with the Celtics marching their way to the NBA Finals after defeating the Miami Heat, 100-96, on the road for the Eastern Conference title on Sunday.

It’s been quite the reversal for Boston, and one Tatum felt the team was on the precipice of even when he watched Barrett put the Celtics in a bigger hole, which they were eventually able to climb out of in a massive way.

“It can’t rain forever,” Tatum said of Boston’s turnaround, according to The Athletic’s Jared Weiss. “Good days (are) coming. I felt we were, whatever it was, one step away from clicking throughout the season. Once we did, we haven’t looked back.”

The Celtics certainly have no reasons to look back now with their biggest test of the season in front of them. Boston will take on the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals with Game 1 slated for Thursday.

Thumbnail photo via Jim Rassol/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Celtics forwards Al Horford and Jaylen Brown
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