Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Jayson Tatum on being a Celtic: 'I love being here, I love getting to put on this uniform'

Jayson Tatum had an historic Game 7, as he led the Celtics to a 112-88 beatdown of the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday at TD Garden.

The All-NBA first team forward dropped 51 points (an NBA record in a Game 7), while hitting 17-of-28 from the field, including 6-of-10 from deep on Mother's Day with both his parents in attendance.

Tatum, who hugged his mom afterwards, also expressed how much he loves being in Boston, saying that the crowd uplifted him to his historic performance.
"I can't express it enough: the genuine love that I kind of feel from the crowd," Tatum said. "Whether it's pregame, during the game, at the free-throw line. I've been here my whole career. I feel that they embrace me almost as one of their own and that means a lot."
In his sixth year with the Celtics, Tatum has had his fair share of criticism, while also getting a chance to prove nay-sayers wrong during crucial playoff moments throughout his time in Boston.

Tatum went from a horribly bad shooting slump in a Game 4 overtime loss and in Game 5 at home (along with three quarters of Game 6) to having the most dominant playoff performances probably of his career in the closing moments of Game 6 and of course all of Game 7 -- scoring 67 points in the final five quarters of the series to put away the Sixers for good.

Eliminating league MVP Joel Embiid (Tatum went 4-of-4 from three against him in Game 7 as his primary defender) and the 76ers at home for a third time in the postseason over the past five years, made it even that much more sweet for the four-time All-Star.
"I love being here, I love getting to put on this uniform," Tatum said. "I love getting to play big games and put on big performances in front of them. They feed off of emotion and energy and it's reciprocated. I can't express enough that I just love being here and love playing in front of this crowd."
Other impressive stats for Tatum to go along with  his 51-point gem in Game 7, were his 13 rebounds, five assists and two steals with zero turnovers committed.

Even now former-76ers head coach Doc Rivers had high praise on Tatum's play, comparing it to only one other time he's witnessed such a performance while on the sidelines.
"It was in this building," Rivers said in his postgame presser. "It was LeBron."
Rivers, then head coach of the Celtics, was referencing Game 6 of the 2012 East Finals when Boston was facing the Heat with a 3-2 series lead in an elimination game -- we all remember how that ended.
"It was the only other time I've seen a performance like that live. I'm glad I haven't seen many," he said. "Tatum was not only unbelievable, but he played hard defensively. He didn't take a lot of bad shots. He got them in rhythm and played great overall tonight."
The Celtics will need more of this version of Tatum, as they have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals (fifth time over the past seven years) in a rematch with the Miami Heat. Game 1 tips off Wednesday night at 8:30 ET on TNT.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of The Boston Globe

No comments:

Post a Comment