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Call it what you will: a rookie wall, distractions off the court, or struggles with a nagging finger injuryJayson Tatum has slowed down noticeably since the end of 2017. That's been tough for the Celtics to stomach, especially when Kyrie Irving is on the bench. 

When Irving is on the court, the C's offensive rating is 108.4, or good for 6th in the league. When he's sitting? 97.3. The worst offensive rating in the NBA. That's why it's crucial for Tatum to score, and how his big game against the Denver Nuggets on Monday night helped secure a W in the Mile High City. 

The 19-year-old put up 20 points on 61% shooting from the floor, plus two deep balls and some huge buckets when the C's needed them, especially to stave off a Denver run in the second half. Plus, he made it look nasty too:



The key to Monday night's victory was the mentality Tatum came in with. After the game, he spoke about what changed:


It's no surprise that there's a direct correlation between when the Celtics win and Tatum's contribution to the scoring column. The last time the C's lost when the rookie put up more than 15 points was Christmas day against the Washington Wizards.

He was a big part of what turned around the 4-game losing streak in the win over the Clippers by supplying 18 points to the effort.

The key will be if he can maintain the aggressiveness and continue to be a viable scoring option for the C's.

Follow Topher Lane on Twitter, @Topher_L. Photo credit: Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports.

Topher Lane 1/30/2018 07:56:00 AM Edit
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