When requested about Jayson Tatum following the Celtics’ Recreation 7 win over the Raptors, Boston coach Brad Stevens, by no means one to get too excessive or too low, delivered the largest understatement of the NBA season as he wrapped up his response.
“Tatum’s actually good, does lots of actually good issues,” Stevens mentioned.
MORE: Greatest highlights from Celtics’ Recreation 7 victory
In Friday evening’s “loser leaves the bubble” match, Tatum posted 29 factors, 12 rebounds and 7 assists, making him the third participant in NBA historical past to steer each groups outright in these classes in a Recreation 7. The opposite two? Larry Fowl and LeBron James.
The 22-year-old Tatum additionally grew to become the second-youngest participant ever with a 25-10-5 line in a Recreation 7. The youngest? Some man named Kobe Bryant.
It wasn’t straightforward for Tatum and the Celtics to rid themselves of the Raptors, as a result of nothing ever is with this Toronto group. The ultimate contest of their second-round sequence felt like a heavyweight bout with exhausted fighters throwing sloppy punches and leaning on one another with a view to keep away from hitting the mat.
However Tatum is the form of participant who can break by way of the hardest defenses and land a clear blow. He’s tall sufficient (6-Eight) to shoot over smaller guards. His deal with is tight sufficient to create area towards greater forwards. His passing has hit one other degree throughout these playoffs (4 video games with six or extra assists vs. the Raptors), and his coaches and teammates have seen his growth.
“He simply has a fantastic really feel for the sport, and he is seeing lots of completely different coverages,” Stevens mentioned. “On this sequence, he noticed every thing you can presumably see. He is completed a fantastic job dealing with it.”
On prime of all that, Tatum is a top-tier wing defender, and there are by no means questions on his effort. On what Stevens known as one of many performs of the sport — together with an unbelievable block by Marcus Good late within the fourth quarter — Tatum sprinted into the lane and corralled a missed free throw with Boston main by simply two factors and 35 seconds remaining. He was fouled on the rebound, and he hit one in all two free throws to push that result in three.
“He is a celebrity. He confirmed it tonight,” Celtics guard Kemba Walker mentioned. “Anyone [who] had any query or doubt in that, he confirmed it. Recreation 7, most necessary sport of the sequence, he obtained the largest rebound of the sequence. Particular, particular child. He works laborious. He needs to win. He loves taking part in along with his teammates. He was unbelievable.”
Walker could also be one of many elder statesmen on this Celtics roster, however Tatum is approach forward when it comes to playoff expertise, having performed in almost twice as many postseason video games. And whereas Walker is an All-Star, Good is an All-Defensive First Staff participant and Jaylen Brown is a terrific younger ahead in his personal proper, Tatum will decide this crew’s ceiling.
When it comes all the way down to crunch time and each individual within the health club can recite the scouting reviews ahead and backward, somebody must take over and create one thing the place nothing exists. Tatum is now anticipated to be that somebody, the No. 1 possibility, the “give me the ball and get out of my approach” man when the set falls aside.
Tatum himself will inform you age isn’t any excuse.
“I do not actually take a look at, you realize, I am one of many younger guys,” Tatum informed the “NBA on TNT” crew after Recreation 7. “I simply attempt to be the most effective participant on the courtroom each evening. I feel that is the mentality I take each time I step on the ground.”
As he has proven all through this run, Tatum is not simply attempting to be the most effective participant on the courtroom each evening. He typically is.
He is probably not good. He is a celebrity.