Friday, February 14, 2020

Why Jayson Tatum is becoming the go-to scorer Celtics need

Flashback to January 12, 2019 - Celtics trailing Orlando Magic, 105-103 - Gordon Hayward in-bounding the ball with less than three seconds remaining in the game - gets the ball to Jayson Tatum, who missed the 3-point attempt and Boston lost the game.

Kyrie Irving, clearly upset by Hayward's choice of a target, yells at him on the court, who contends that Tatum makes that type of shot most of the time. Well, Hayward's vision of Tatum becoming Boston's go-to scorer was on display in the Celtics double-overtime 141-133 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday night.

Tatum, the reigning player of the week, logged a team-high 47 minutes and poured in 39 points on 61 percent accuracy from the field and 50 percent on 3-pointers, all while taking down nine boards. It seems like Tatum has always been able to get a decent shot off at the NBA level, starting in his rookie year. But he has worked on his game, and it shows. Accolades to Gordon Hayward for his early faith in Tatum, and for being the steadying influence once supplied by the departed Al Horford.

The 2019-20 version of the Celtics is truly a Team - with a capital "T." This is no knock on Irving, as the 2018-19 roster was simply a bad mix. This one is not. While Tatum is avenging a career-high 22.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists and is heading to his first All-Star Game this weekend, the Celtics’ record stands at 38-16 and projecting a to be 58-win season heading into the break.

Tom Lane

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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