A precocious Jayson Tatum has joined some elite company
It was just two seasons ago that a barely 20-year-old Jayson
Tatum made his debut on the NBA Playoff stage, his surprisingly second-seeded
Celtics matched up with Milwaukee and their under-aged soon-to-be back-to-back
MVP, Giannis Antetokuonmpo. Before the close of this series during which the
home team would never taste defeat, both “babes” would receive their Game Seven
The Greek Freak struggled early on, delivering just seven
points and four rebounds before the intermission. A more aggressive JT took the
game’s first shot, scored a team-high nine points and added two assists in 11
minutes of Turnover-free Q1 participation. His “old-fashioned” three-point play
eight minutes in erased the Bucks’ only lead of the contest, his 16-footer on
the subsequent possession put his squad ahead for good.
Terry Rozier’s gaudy stat line (26 – 6 – 9) and Big Al
Horford’s sharp shooting eye (13-for-17) captured the post-game buzz, but the
rook’s fingerprints (20 – 6 – 5) were all over the weight-bearing beams of this
112 – 96 victory.
Tatum’s Game Seven grooming would resume in 29 days, again
on the Garden’s parquet in a series yet to see a Home loser – this time with a
ticket to the Finals at stake, a genuine icon inhibiting his team’s ascent.
Jayson’s again team-leading nine Q1 points set the tone for a First Half in
which the Celtics would hold the lead for 22:36 … though their 43 – 39 advantage
at the intermission seemed as if it should have been greater.
In a back-and-forth Second Half that saw four ties and five
lead changes, neither team would go up by more than six points until Cleveland
put the game away in the final two minutes (despite Boston’s horrific 3-for-20
three-point shooting) … and as for the rookie, his 13 second half points were
more than any two of his teammates, his 5-for-8 shooting accuracy in stark
contrast to the rest of the team’s 7-for-33.
While young Jayson’s “game” at that stage had plenty of “room
for growth” – one assist, four free throw attempts, a team-high three turnovers
– he’d again displayed the rare quality of “stepping up” in the big moment.
That late May day, however, belonged to the Cavs, particularly
to LeBron James, whose 35 points, 15 rebounds and 9 assists were all game-highs
… making him just the second NBA player ever to pull off such a feat in a Game
Join the Club
But the ranks of that exclusive fraternity have recently been
increased by 50 percent, the new member our own JT, whose 29 points, 12
rebounds and seven assists were all “column-toppers” in the Celtics’ recent
Game Seven repulse of the Raptors.
Mr. Bird – who just happens to have established the society
back in 1984 against the Knicks – would be proud!
Abacus Revelation for the Road
Young Jayson may have grounds for some trash-talking at the
next gathering of this Game Seven “Elite Force” – in their games, both Larry
Legend (5) and LBJ (8) posted game highs in Turnovers committed as well. JT’s
three TO’s did top the team (who only committed 12 overall) but were exceeded by
Pascal Siakam’s five.