Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum gigantic in win over Washington Wizards

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

Another week of mixed results had the Boston Celtics in desperate need of a win Sunday afternoon against the Washington Wizards.

Jayson Tatum took it upon himself to make sure that mission succeeded.

Tatum dropped a season-high 51 points on the Wizards as the Celtics (24-24) once again reached the .500 mark with a 116-87 victory. This was a feel good win, especially after blowing a fourth quarter lead a game prior in a 109-105 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

The good news is that a 2-2 week moved Boston into eighth-place in the Eastern Conference, 6.5 games back from the top spot. The bad news is that the Celtics are deeply inconsistent, as both losses should have been games the Celtics won.

Boston is still in need of a consistent third scorer and better shooting but Sunday’s victory was a breath of fresh air that saw Tatum finally snap out of a shooting slump.

Boston Celtics: A Tatum gem

Entering Sunday’s game, Tatum had been mired in a cold spell. He’d been 0-17 from three-point range in the last three games and, in his last five, a chilling 3-29.

Tatum awakened in fantastic fashion against the Wizards. He hit his first three from deep and finished by connecting on nine (in 14 attempts). Tatum was a smooth 18-28 from the field as he crossed the 50-point mark in only 33 minutes of action. It was also the second-straight game in which Tatum put up 10 rebounds and seven assists.

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Games like these remind fans why Tatum is one of the best young stars in the game. If he can again find consistency in his shooting stroke — and find games where he gets extended rest because of big Boston leads — perhaps the team can put together a run.

Needed, too, is a third-scorer who can consistently put up 16-18 points per game. Tatum and Jaylen Brown do so much, they need that help.

There’s plenty of options internally. Right now, it just seems no one wants to do it on a game-to-game basis. Dennis Schroder has stretches — averaging 21 points per game in a recent three-game stretch — yet is also prone to disappearing for two or three games at a time.

Robert Williams needs more touches to be someone who averages 14-16 points a game and Marcus Smart is capable but runs into some trouble if he’s tossing up too many shots.

If a trade doesn’t bring in a player with a strong presence on offense, than one or more of these players will need to take the reins. Alleviating pressure off Tatum and Brown is a must as this season progresses.

Boston Celtics: The week ahead

A chance to rest up and make more moves in the standings is on the agenda for the Celtics in the coming week.

Boston only has one game between now and Friday, a home game against the Sacramento Kings, as the teams meet for the first time in 2021-22.

Friday is a road game against the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks defeated the Celtics back in November, a 110-99 victory for Atlanta. Brown missed that game for Boston and Tatum had 34 points, nine rebounds, and five assists.

Saturday sees the Celtics with a road game against the New Orleans Pelicans, a team Boston handled 104-92 on 1/17.

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Despite their struggles this season, Boston is very much in the thick of things for a playoff spot. Harnessing a rhythm and flow this season has been difficult. Each time things to be turning around, a setback occurs. A 3-0 week can help stabilize things and it is much needed as the season creeps to towards the All-Star break.

And if a 1-2 week happens? Well, it may just cement the Boston Celtics status as a team that will hover around .500 for the rest of the season, with the only real answers coming in the form of an overhaul moving forward.