Despite just being 24-years-old and playing the NBA Finals for the first time in his five-year career, Jayson Tatum has been able to keep playing in the NBA Finals in perspective.
“Just try to remember it’s just basketball at the end of the day,” Tatum said during his media availability, “Try to prepare the same and not get too excited. Just go out there, be relaxed and play your game but still enjoy this. It’s no guarantee that you go to the Finals every year, and it’s a big deal.”
That’s some sage wisdom coming from a young player that’s experienced a good deal of playoff success early in his career. But even Tatum had to know that that level of success wasn’t common so early in his career, especially being a lottery pick like he was. Tatum and Boston went on two runs to the Conference Finals run before they reached the Finals this year.
Tatum and Boston’s journey to get to the championship stage began with a revenge tour throughout the Eastern Conference, eliminating the only teams that have beaten them in the last three postseasons. Boston ended up sweeping the Nets and beating the Bucks and Heat in seven games.
Tatum’s Finals debut didn’t go the way he expected, to put it bluntly, scoring 12 points and 13 assists on 3-17 shooting from the field. Despite having difficulty finding the bottom of the net in Game 1, Tatum was able to play a pivotal role as a playmaker, providing the hockey assist for Horford’s and-1 layup to cement Boston’s Game 1.
YEA AL 💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/6kPA4z8aab— Boston Celtics (@celtics) June 3, 2022
In Game 2, Tatum bounced back and posted 28 points, six rebounds, and three assists in a 107-88 loss to Golden State but turned the ball over four times.
Tatum finished Game 3 with 26 points, six rebounds, and nine assists. The five-time All-Star took over Boston’s offense in the second half, scoring 15 points to hold off Golden State after they reeled off another signature third-quarter run to close Boston’s lead to 93-89 going into the fourth quarter.
In the final frame, Tatum sparked a 9-2 run to close the door on the Warriors’ comeback bid. The Celtics are now up 2-1, heading into Game 4 at TD Garden.
If Tatum and Jaylen Brown (27 points, nine rebounds, five assists in Game 3) continue to ascend and meet the challenge Golden State brings, they could possibly cement their status as Celtics legends as they lead Boston to their first title since 2008.