Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum has heard MVP chants at TD Garden before, but the ones that rained down from the home crowd Wednesday night had more legitimacy behind them.
Tatum continues to put himself at the forefront of the MVP race to start this season and backed up his candidacy with a brilliant performance in a 134-121 win over the Miami Heat. Tatum poured in a game-high 49 points on 15-of-25 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds, three assists and two steals.
It was an MVP-like effort worthy of the home fanbase’s praises and Tatum seemed almost in awe to hear the chants, which broke out starting in the first quarter.
“That means everything,” Tatum told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin on the floor following the contest. “Something I dreamed about as a kid and to hear it in front of the home crowd, in front of the best fans in the world, it holds a special place in my heart. I love this place. I love being here. And hearing it during the game, gives you chills and I’m glad we got a win.”
Tatum’s in the MVP conversation with Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic and Denver Nuggets unicorn Nikola Jokic among others. Tatum has squared off against the two already this season, rising up to the challenge on both occasions and making his case as the best player on the floor each time.
Tatum’s stellar 3-point shooting helped give him that label against the Heat. Tatum came into the contest shooting just 34.7% from downtown and he definitely was pleased to sink eight of his 12 attempts from beyond the arc while lamenting the one free throw he missed that prevented him from obtaining a 50-piece.
“I’m just glad I hit some threes tonight,” Tatum told Chin. “I’ve been shooting terrible from the three. So, it just felt good to see some go in. I missed a free throw, but I’ll get 50 again one day.”
Tatum’s next opportunity to do so will again be against the Heat as the Celtics host Miami for a second straight game Friday.