Boston Celtics: 3 keys to beating the Brooklyn Nets in the first round

Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /
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Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

Boston Celtics key No. 3: Run the offense through Jayson Tatum

This is extremely important, but given how dominant Jayson Tatum has been against Brooklyn in prior meetings, Ime Udoka and the coaching staff should already know this. Tatum has been on a tear in the second half, and if it weren’t for the three-headed snake of Nikola Jokic/Joel Embiid/Giannis Antetokounmpo a top the MVP race, Tatum would probably garner serious MVP consideration.

In the past 12 games Tatum has played against Brooklyn, he has scored 30+ points in seven of those games, including 40+ three of those times. Tatum has been a one-man wrecking crew against the Nets, who are admittedly not a defensive powerhouse. As a result, he should be the focal point of the offense, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise.

Tatum’s most recent game against Brooklyn was a 54 point outburst that led Boston to a 126-120 win. Throughout that game, the offense ran through Tatum. He was scoring from all three levels of the floor, getting matchups he liked, and most importantly, he was efficienct. Boston shouldn’t expect 50 point games from Tatum on a nightly basis, but he’s going to have to play at a high level if the Celtics intend on winning this series.

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Tatum kept the Celtics afloat in their first round exit against the Nets last season in a series where they really shouldn’t have been competitive in the first place. Since then, Brooklyn has lost James Harden, and while they may add Simmons at some point this series, they are not a strong defensive team. Aside from maybe Simmons (and that’s a big maybe) they don’t really have anyone who can go against Tatum and slow him down.

Tatum is going to need to have the ball in his hands when Boston needs points, because when push comes to shove, he’s going to be the one who can get buckets when needed. Whether he drives to the rim, hits threes, or gets his pull up midrange shot going, Tatum is going to need to be Boston’s top player this series. The good news is that Tatum has been doing this all season long, and Celtics fans should expect it to continue this series.