Jayson Tatum was still having trouble processing the ending of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals nearly an hour after the Boston Celtics walked off the floor at Kaseya Center in pure elation after a 104-103 victory over the Miami Heat on Saturday night.
It’s tough to fault the Celtics star for that, due to the stunning fashion in which they won to save their season.
Marcus Smart’s final-second 3-point attempt rimmed out, making it look like Boston’s season would come to a crushing end. But Derrick White, who inbounded the ball on the final play, crashed the offensive glass and got his put-back attempt to fall just before the buzzer sounded to lift the Celtics to an improbable win.
“Oh my God, that was incredible,” Tatum told reporters as seen on NBC Sports Boston postgame coverage. “We drew up a play. I was trying to get the ball. Jimmy (Butler) and (Max) Strus jumped out to me. Smart came in and shot it and we just crashed the glass. Everything was like a blur after that. D-White tipped it in but that felt like the longest 10 seconds ever waiting for the confirmation if he made it or not.
“I’m still like in disbelief. That (expletive) was crazy.”
The Celtics were on the verge of monumental collapse as they squandered a 10-point fourth-quarter lead with less than four minutes remaining. Butler put the Heat up with three seconds left after he got fouled by Al Horford and sunk the resulting three free throws to give the Heat a 103-102 lead.
While Jaylen Brown was in “full prayer mode” at that moment, Tatum, who netted a game-high 31 points on 8-of-21 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds and five assists, had already moved on to what the Celtics were going to do at the other end of the court.
“There’s still three seconds left,” Tatum said. “You don’t have time to think about it. You’re just in the moment, next play. And it worked out.”
What ensued after that is tough for Tatum to comprehend as the Celtics erupted in celebration once referees confirmed that White got his shot off in time. He had a moment with White but it was lost in the pandemonium of what transpired.
And the Celtics now have a chance at history as they look to become the first NBA team to ever overcome a 3-0 series deficit.
“I don’t even remember what I said on the court. Hell, I was in shock,” Tatum said. “When I got back to the locker room, everybody was excited. It was just like a sigh of relief. We didn’t play well on offense. We didn’t shoot the ball well, we missed some free throws late that guys probably wish they could have back. And it was like, ‘Whoof, we have another chance.’ And you don’t always get second chances in life and things like that. It was just take a deep breath, right? We won a big game and we have a special to play better on Monday back home.”