Celtics

Stars, studs, duds: Jayson Tatum shows atypically ideal skills for rookie

Stars, studs, duds: Jayson Tatum shows atypically ideal skills for rookie

SALT LAKE CITY – Whenever you talk to an NBA rookie, they tend to speak about how the pro game is so much faster, physically and mentally, than what they’re used to. 

As we’ve seen time and time again, this leads to them playing at faster pace than they probably should. 

And then there’s Boston rookie Jayson Tatum whose pace was atypically ideal in Boston’s 81-70 summer league loss to San Antonio on Wednesday. 

Drafted by Boston with the third overall pick, Tatum tallied a double-double against the Spurs with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

“He’s going to be a pretty good player in this league for a long time,” said Celtics assistant coach Jerome Allen who is coaching Boston’s summer league team. “As the days pass, I’m beyond being surprised by what he’s able to do on floor.”

The multi-dimensional skillset Tatum was touted as having after one season at Duke, was on full display Wednesday night. 

He scored driving to the rim, from the perimeter on pull-ups and catch-and-shoots, not to mention making a couple of nifty passes for easy baskets for his teammates. 

And making it even more impressive, is he’s doing at a very cool, calm and consistent rhythm that’s uncanny for a 19-year-old in the NBA.

“The game is faster and it is an adjustment,” Tatum said. “What I try to do is play at my speed when I can … that’s where I’m comfortable at.”

And he’s doing this while the coaching staff feeds him and his teammates a steady diet of information at both ends of the floor with limited time to process with the games coming so quickly. 

Tatum takes it all in, showing no signs of being overwhelmed. 

“His soul … he seems so mature and older,” Allen said. “He doesn’t get sped up. He’s physical, he competes, he puts it on the floor … you would be hard-pressed to find another 19-year-old in this country that has the demeanor he has.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Wednesday’s game.

STARS

Bryn Forbes: His speed off the dribble and knack for knocking down spot-up jumpers gave Boston fits all game. He led all scorers with 31 points on 12-for-20 shooting.

Jayson Tatum: There would be no late-game heroics tonight for the Celtics rookie, but that doesn’t diminish from what was a second strong showing in as many games. He led the Celtics with 23 points on 10-for-18 shooting along with 10 rebounds.

STUDS

Davis Bertans: He was one of the more consistent shooters, tallying 14 points on 5-for-10 shooting which included 4-for-8 on 3’s.

Abdel Nader: He was the Celtics’ only other double-digit scorer besides Tatum, tallying 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting.

DUDS

Celtics turnovers: This more than anything else, is what killed them against the Spurs. Boston turned the ball over 19 times with five different players tallying at least two turnovers apiece. Those miscues led to 25 points for San Antonio.

Baynes in Celtics starting lineup in battle with Whiteside

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Baynes in Celtics starting lineup in battle with Whiteside

Brad Stevens has said on more than one occasion the Boston Celtics’ starting lineup may fluctuate based upon who they play which is indeed the case against the Miami Heat tonight.

Stevens said 6-foot-11 center Aron Baynes will replace Marcus Morris in the starting lineup tonight to help battle Miami 7-footer Hassan Whiteside. He will join a unit that includes Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford.

Boston defeated Miami earlier this season 96-90, but Whiteside did not play due to injury.

“We’ve mixed and matched all year with our starters,” Stevens told reporters.

Regardless of who the Celtics were playing tonight, there was a good chance that Baynes would be in the starting lineup for Morris who is having some more soreness in his left knee which sidelined him for the first eight games of the season.

Morris, who has started the last four games and seven of the last eight, is questionable to play tonight.

“We’ve been trying to manage his minutes the best that we can,” Stevens said. “But for whatever reason, he had a little bit (of soreness) in Dallas. He feels a lot better, two days later. But we want to make sure.”

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Streak reveals depth even Celtics didn't know they had

Streak reveals depth even Celtics didn't know they had

Coaches in all sports will tell you that winning is not easy.
 
Making the Celtics’ 16-game winning streak even more impressive is that a number of the victories have involved Boston turning to some unlikely sources of production.

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And that has provided a glimpse into a franchise that’s getting the best of both worlds: quality play from its core group while developing reserves who have contributed to the team reeling off 16 straight wins in a variety of ways.
 
Because coach Brad Stevens has gone deeper into his bench this season than past years, it has created a roster with minutes more evenly distributed and with that, less wear and tear on the bodies of key players.
 
And while this team is led by Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, there has been at least one other Celtic to emerge as a top-three performer every night...and often it’s not the same player.
 
“Much more unpredictable now,” a league executive texted to NBC Sports Boston. “That number three guy, is it [Jaylen] Brown? [Jayson] Tatum? Sometimes it’s Marcus [Smart]. You don’t know who it’s going to be because a lot of times, I don’t think they [Celtics] know who it will be. It’s why they’re so good, man.”
 
Here are five under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game in Miami with the Celtics trying to push their winning streak to 17:

KYRIE FOR MVP
It’s one thing for the home crowd to get into the ‘M-V-P’ chants when you’re at the free-throw line. But it’s a completely different matter when those same cheers are being heard on the road. That’s where Irving was following the 110-102 overtime win at Dallas, a game in which Irving dropped 47 points, 10 in overtime. It’ll be interesting to see if another strong game by Irving will lead to another serenading of ‘M-V-P’ chants for the most dominant player on the team with the league’s best record.


 
TURNING DOWN THE HEAT
The streak is the talk of the NBA right now, but streaking was going to be part of the conversation leading up to tonight’s game regardless. The Celtics come into tonight’s game having won eight in a row over the Heat, their longest current winning streak over any team. Boston has dominated this matchup for years, posting a 70-44 record all-time against Miami in the regular season.
 

DUKE CONNECTION
College basketball just kicked off and Duke is once again among the game’s top teams, a school that consistently produces NBA talent at a relatively high level. That’ll be very apparent tonight when you consider this Boston-Miami matchup features three players (Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum for Boston, Justise Winslow for Miami) from Duke who will all be in the starting lineup and a fourth (Boston’s Semi Ojeleye) who attended Duke but later transferred to SMU.


 
JUSTISE WINSLOW
Every front-office executive has that one player they tried – and failed – to acquire that, in hindsight, not getting him was a really good thing. Winslow is that guy for the Celtics. While he hasn’t been necessarily a bust, his impact at this level hasn’t been enough to have warranted all the assets Boston was willing to part with on draft night in order to move up and select him. Still, he’s healthy now and starting to play better which is evident by his numbers in most offensive categories on the rise, while his defense has been relatively solid.
 

THREE-POINTERS
The Heat have made the 3-point shot a much bigger part of their offense this season, evident by Miami ranking seventh in the league in 3-point makes (11.2) this season. In Boston, one of the keys to their top-ranked defense has been their length, which has come in real handy defending the 3-pointer. In fact, Boston has limited opponents to just 32.1 percent shooting on 3’s this season, which ranks third in the league.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE