Jayson Tatum’s ascension from borderline All-Star to undisputed superstar continued with his 54 point performance in a 126-120 thriller over the Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant led Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.
KD, a walking bucket by his onw right, found himself very impressed with the overall performance of Tatum, calling him a “shot maker.”
Kevin Durant on Jayson Tatum: “He made some tough shots and three point shots over us… he’s an elite shot maker.” pic.twitter.com/KEkhTXQS7F— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) March 6, 2022
The term “shot-maker” was nowhere near attached to former Duke Blue Devil when he was mired in a considerable shooting slump featured by a stretch where he missed 20 straight 3-point shot attempts. Now the pendulum has completely swung the other way for Tatum. In his last three games, he has shot 52.5 percent (42-80) from the floor while averaging 41 points per game, which has led to three Celtics wins.
The 24-year-old forward has taken the next step as a superstar by putting up big games against other top stars. Before this one-on-one matchup with Durant, Tatum scored 33 points on a 12-25 shooting clip in a win over Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks. After that, he dropped 37 points against Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies.
“Those matchups — when you’re playing one of the better teams in the league, two of the best guys — as a competitor, those are the kinds of moments that as a kid you looked forward to,” Tatum told ESPN about playing his peers. “When those opportunities come, you try to make the most of it.”
Tatum’s play coincides with the overall improvement of play from the Boston Celtics, who have won 21 of their last 27 games. Something that was not lost on his teammate, Jaylen Brown, who spoke on just that after the game.
Jaylen Brown on the Celtics offense: “This man to the left was unstoppable, that helps your offense… all season we’re just trying to make the right plays, learn and grow” pic.twitter.com/H3q65QMddO— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) March 6, 2022
The Celtics take on the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte.