By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics finally got a win over the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night, and they did so with a well-balanced team effort. Four players scored 20 or more points for Boston, with Jaylen Brown leading the way with a team-high 26.
Of course Jayson Tatum was among those four players, dropping 25 points of his own in Boston’s 117-106 win, because Jayson Tatum is usually at or near the top of Boston’s scoring when the game is over. It’s just kind of expected out of the 22-year-old, who has been making everything look so darn easy every night.
Because Tatum puts up some absurd stat lines with relative ease, they can occasionally be overlooked. I know, Celtics fans aren’t ones to overlook the accomplishments of their young stars, but that has become the case with Tatum. When he does something borderline spectacular every night, it can occasionally bring on a “Yeah, what else is new” kind of approach.
Look at his output on Saturday night: 25 points off 9-for-20 shooting, 14 rebounds and eight assists. He was a game-high plus-23 during his 41 minutes on the floor. He did all of that and we barely batted an eye.
Some of that had to do with Brown’s epic performance and Gordon Hayward’s triumphant return. Saturday night was truly a team effort, the kind of basketball we knew the Celtics could play but hadn’t over the first two games of the Conference Finals.
But Game 3’s victory was Tatum’s sixth straight 20-plus point game and the 24th of his playoff career. What makes that 24 even more impressive is that Tatum is already third all-time on the NBA’s list of 20-plus point playoff games, trailing just Kobe Bryant (32) and LeBron James (29).
That’s Jayson Tatum’s 6th consecutive 20+-point game, the 24th of his playoff career.
Only Kobe and Lebron have more.
Let’s say that again…
…only Kobe…and LeBron…have more. pic.twitter.com/bUyfIFiqAU
— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) September 20, 2020
Just a friendly reminder that Tatum is only in his third NBA season. It really isn’t supposed to be this easy.
Boston’s young star seemingly makes some kind of either Celtics or NBA history every game, so his accomplishments are becoming a ho-hum part of a nightly routine. But we better get used to it, because Tatum is only getting better.
He’s already proved that he can be the best player on a title contender. He helped the Celtics get to the Eastern Conference Finals in his first season without the services of Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward. This year, he’s been the conductor of Boston’s locomotive, putting up some truly eye-popping stats at 25.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game in the playoffs. He’s had four games of at least 25 points and 14 rebounds this postseason.
Jayson Tatum is one of three players in NBA history to produce 25+ points, 14+ rebounds, and 8+ assists in a playoff game prior to the age of 23
Tonight he became the first player in NBA history to accomplish that feat twice (9/9/20 vs. TOR; 9/19/20 at MIA)
— Celtics Stats (@celtics_stats) September 20, 2020
Boston’s young stud has also taken his defensive game to a new level as well, getting his 6-foot-11 wingspan in passing lanes and opponent’s faces. His postseason stat line is even more impressive when you tack on a block and a steal every game. Tatum’s emergence on the defensive end is one of the many reasons Boston touts one of the league’s best defenses once again.
Now we wait to see what Tatum does as a follow-up to his monster Game 3 when Boston tries to pull even with Miami on Wednesday night. He is focused on getting W’s for the Celtics, but given Tatum hasn’t been great from three-point range against the Heat (hitting just six of his 21 attempts), he’ll probably go out and set some record from downtown.
And we’ll just see it as another night at the office for one Jayson Tatum.