Boston Celtics: How Jayson Tatum led his team to victory in Game 1

Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The Boston Celtics reeled off a huge rally in the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals to give themselves an early 1-0 series lead over the Golden State Warriors. It was a historic quarter for a number of reasons, but more importantly, the double-digit deficit the team found itself in entering the quarter became a double-digit margin of victory by the time all was said and done.

Pretty much anyone who set foot on the court for Boston last night is receiving praise for their performance, and deservedly so. The C’s took a couple of blows early in the form of a 21 point opening quarter from Stephen Curry, and a 15 point deficit towards the end of the third quarter, but that didn’t matter once the fourth rolled around.

Whether it was Jaylen Brown opening the quarter with a much needed scoring flurry, Derrick White and Payton Pritchard playing so well that Marcus Smart sat on the bench for most of the fourth quarter, or Al Horford‘s 26 point outing, the Celtics received great performances up and down the roster to help them pull off such a huge comeback.

The one player who isn’t getting a ton of praise is Jayson Tatum, which makes sense. Tatum labored through the game, and couldn’t seem to buy a bucket. But Tatum had a huge impact on his teammates, and he’s actually a big reason the Boston Celtics managed to rally and pull off an upset over the Warriors in Game 1.

How Jayson Tatum helped the Boston Celtics pull off their huge comeback

Before we get started on the good stuff, we have to acknowledge this was probably the worst shooting output from Tatum in the postseason. He shot just 3-17 from the field, and it wasn’t as if he was forcing shots; pretty much every shot Tatum missed would be considered an open look.

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And yet, Tatum still managed to make a huge impact on offense. How you may ask? Simple; he was the team’s best passer on the night, and without him, the Boston doesn’t have a shot to to even pull off their fourth-quarter comeback in the first place.

Tatum only scored 12 points, but his 13 assists pretty much evened out all the missed shots he had. Those 13 assists turned into 36 points for Tatum’s teammates, which is an absurd total. That means pretty much every time Tatum got an assist, it resulted in a three-point make.

While Boston is not going to shoot 21-41 from three as a team every single night, Tatum also isn’t going to shoot as poorly as he did in this one every night either. Tatum’s teammates picked him up on an off night for him, yes, but he played a big role in helping them help him.

This is particularly encouraging for a number of reasons. This outing from Tatum has really shown just how much he has grown as a player this season. A year ago, this statline wouldn’t have been a possibility. Tatum would have either continued to try to break out of his shooting slump by forcing mored shots, or just sit in the corner and remain uninvolved on the offense.

But that’s not how Tatum operates anymore. Despite his poor shooting, Golden State had to respect him on his drives to the rim, and Tatum knew this. If they dropped into the paint, Tatum had someone wide open at the perimeter pretty much everytime.

This sounds simple, but this is pretty much how the Boston Celtics won Game 1. Ime Udoka started going small with just one big man on the floor to counter Golden State running Draymond Green at center, and it resulted in a five-out offense that caught fire in the fourth from out of nowhere.

Next. Celtics have what it takes to beat the Warriors. dark

Tatum still actively searched for his shot, but it wasn’t to the point where it was becoming an every possession thing. Superstars find a way to impact the game, even when they can’t buy a bucket, and that’s what Tatum did in Game 1. Tatum will not shoot this poorly the rest of the series, and the Warriros will have a problem on their hands if he begins to get in rhythm throughout this series.