The postseason is an unforgiving arena. You can’t hide on the bench, you can’t get hurt (or at least not without drawing criticism), and there are no excuses. It’s all about performance, and Jayson Tatum has been putting up numbers for years now. So why hasn’t he done it in the playoffs?
The Celtics forward have shown flashes of brilliance in spurts — like a game-winner against the Raptors last season or a 20-point performance in Game 7 against Milwaukee earlier this year — but hasn’t been able to sustain anything over time yet. “I think it’s interesting,” said one Eastern Conference executive who is familiar with Tatum’s game.
“I don’t think he’ll ever have an issue creating shots or scoring points … but I do think so much else depends on his health.”
Jayson Tatum has the tools and ability to be a championship player, but he still needs to put everything together on the biggest stage.
For Jayson Tatum, the process test means more than just getting there; it’s about winning when you get there.
Jayson Tatum Opens Up
“I’ve been in this situation before,” Tatum said after Boston was eliminated from last season’s Eastern Conference finals by Milwaukee. “It’s not new for me.”
Jayson Tatum was the third pick in last year’s draft, and he won Rookie of the Year honors while helping Boston reach the NBA Finals — a place they’ll try to return this season. But with just six months between his rookie year ending and his second NBA season beginning, what do you think has changed?
The reason why playmaking is important for a young forward like Tatum is because it allows him to make his teammates better. That’s especially true for Kyrie Irving, who had one of his best statistical seasons as a pro this year thanks in large part to having improved passers on the court with him in Al Horford and Gordon Hayward (who missed most of last season). In fact, this past season was just about what we would expect from Irving: He led the Celtics in assists (5.8 per game) and was second behind James Harden in points created through assists per game (7.4). That’s pretty good company for a guy who doesn’t often get called upon by those around him to create shots off the dribble.