Boston Celtics second-year forward Jayson Tatum bounced back with a 21-point performance in the team’s 116-106 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night.
In Tuesday night’s 116-106 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Celtics snapped a four-game losing streak without Irving. In the process, they not only clinched a playoff spot, but also saw Tatum get back on track after being in a personal shooting slump.
It was just the second time Tatum finished with 20-plus points since prior to the All-Star break and a much-needed lift for a team limping into the playoffs both physically and mentally. Scoring 19 of those 21 points in the first half, Tatum’s production kept the Celtics ahead and holding off a Cavaliers team that stuck with Boston most of the night.
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With just seven games remaining on a very disappointing, rollercoaster season for the team as a whole, getting Tatum going and solidifying him as a second go-to score will be monument for the Boston Celtics in their hopes to savage this season through a deep playoff run.
The team simply needs someone besides Kyrie Irving to create their own shot and find offense in the playoffs where the defensive intensity increases, and the games become more bogged into half-court battles.
It will be even more important to have Tatum as a go-to scorer when Irving is sitting on the bench. On a team that struggles offensively at times, having that secondary scorer who can create their own shot will go a long way in how far this team advances.
With health also being a factor, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens referenced the importance of having Tatum back on the floor and holding down the scoring when the team really needed him.
"“I thought Jayson (Tatum) had that run in the first half while we were really guarding at the start of the game, and then those last four minutes of the first quarter, we weren’t (guarding) as well, and then Jayson kind of went on that run to keep us at bay,” Stevens said following the 116-106 win as transcribed by Celtics.com."
Building off last year’s success
Scoring over 18.0 points a game, Tatum showed that he wasn’t afraid of the spotlight and is more than capable of coming up clutch down the stretch. In at least replicating that scoring production, the second-year rising star could give Stevens that scoring 1-2 punch that would make the Boston Celtics a tough out in the playoffs and a team obviously capable of beating anyone, including the Golden State Warriors.
As important as Irving is, Tatum is the key to playoff success because of his talent on both ends of the court. When he is confident and his shot is going in, the Duke product is very tough to defend, just like that other Duke product who plays point guard.