Celtics

Jayson Tatum is not your average playoff rookie

Jayson Tatum is not your average playoff rookie

BOSTON – It was Jayson Tatum’s first playoff game on Sunday, a time when even the most level-headed rookies might be feeling some anxiety/anxiousness/nerves.

But as we’ve seen all season, Tatum is not your run-of-the-mill first-year player.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that in the most important game of his still-young NBA career, Tatum’s demeanor in Game No. 83 wasn’t any different than No. 23.

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And his play in Game 1 of Boston’s first-round series with the Milwaukee Bucks, would prove to be one of the keys as the Celtics squeaked out a 113-107 overtime win.

Tatum had quite the playoff debut for Boston, tallying a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds to go with four assists.

He became just the third rookie in franchise history to tally a double-double in his first playoff game, joining NBC Sports Boston basketball analyst Tommy Heinsohn and fellow Hall of Famer Bill Russell.

“It was a lot of fun,” Tatum said of his first postseason game. “I’ve always dreamed of this moment, playing in my first playoff game. It helped we were at home and we had our home crowd behind us and we got the first win.”

Tatum gave the fans a lot to cheer about as he opened the game by making his first four field goal attempts.

But as the game wore on, his Midas touch began to fade as the Bucks became more physical which in hindsight was among the many takeaways from his first playoff game.

Tatum wasn’t surprised.

"Nobody wants to lose, especially Game 1,” he said. “So everybody was giving it their all.”

And while Al Horford’s all-around game (24 points, 12 rebounds) stood out, as did Terry Rozier’s clutch shooting in the fourth quarter and his scoring in overtime and for the game overall (23 points), Tatum had his shining moments as well.

With neither team showing signs of taking control in overtime, Boston took a 106-105 lead with 2:10 to play.

They would get the ball back with a chance to take their biggest lead of the extra session, and it was Tatum delivering with a driving lay-up that gave Boston a 108-105 lead with 1:22 to play that turned out to be the game-winning basket.

Delivering big shots in big moments was nothing new to Tatum or the Celtics, which is why neither felt him being in his first playoff game would factor in his play.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens repeatedly told media leading up to Sunday’s game, that he anticipated Tatum would play well.

“Well I can say we expect it, because he’s shown it all year,” Stevens said.

Tatum did a lot of things well, but he made some mistakes too that at the time, were huge gaffes on his part.

None appeared to be bigger than the errant pass he made with 41.2 seconds to play in overtime that gave the Bucks the ball trailing 108-106 at the time.

Milwaukee had multiple chances to tie the game or take the lead, but among the key plays by Tatum was blocking the shot of Malcolm Brogdon with 27.4 seconds to play.

Moments later, Terry Rozier was fouled and made a pair of free throws with 18.8 seconds to play.

Boston had a two-possession lead, but Tatum knew the game while in hand, was definitely not over.

And that realization more than anything else, is what Tatum will take with him from Game 1 and apply towards Game 2 on Tuesday.

“It’s a long game and we understand that and both teams are playing extremely hard so it’s going to go down to the wire,” Tatum said. “That is what I really learned today; you can’t take really take plays off because ever possession matters.”

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Bucks vs. Celtics: It's all come down to 'who wants it the most'

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File photo

Bucks vs. Celtics: It's all come down to 'who wants it the most'

MILWAUKEE -- Khris Middleton knows what’s at stake so there’s no need to sugarcoat or downplay the significance of tonight’s Game 6 matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks. 

“Just win or go home,” Middleton said. “You can’t leave nothing on the line.”

Boston will come into tonight’s game with a similar approach, aware that regardless of what happens in Game 6, they will live to see another game at the TD Garden on Saturday at 8 p.m. EST. They could play Game 7 against Milwaukee or Game 1 of the second round against Philadelphia.

But the Celtics will tell you the sooner they can put away this Bucks team, the better off they’ll be. 

At this point in the series, there are no true surprises for either team.

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“Fifth time playing each other, you’re gonna know each other’s game pretty well by now,” said Milwaukee guard Matthew Dellavedova. “So it’s definitely some things we can do better, and we’ll execute better in game six.”

Like most playoff series, adjustments have a way of often being the difference between winning and losing. 

Milwaukee struck first by inserting Malcolm Brogdan into the starting lineup from Game 3 on, to replace Tony Snell who has struggled shooting the ball (29.4 percent) most of this series. And a back injury to John Henson afforded more playing time to ex-Celtic Tyler Zeller and Thon Maker, with the latter having dominant performances in Games 3 and 4, but being a non-factor in Boston’s Game 5 win which gave the Celtics a 3-2 series lead.

Boston has since countered with Marcus Smart making his playoff debut this season in Game 5 after being out six weeks with a right thumb injury, while Semi Ojeleye got his first NBA start in Boston’s Game 5 win as well. 

“It made it a little bit easier for us (defensively),” said Jaylen Brown, referring to Ojeleye’s first NBA start. “Because we can switch . . . we’re all the same. That made it a lot easier for us.”

"It’s gonna come down to who owns their space, who wants it the most and who’s gonna fight for it,” Brown said. “All that X’s and O’s and stuff  . . . it’s gonna come down to that (who wants it, fights for it more) at the end of the day.”

Terry Rozier added, “It’s gonna be a dog fight but we look to come out on top.”

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Another late error by refs: Celts should have been called for shot-clock violation

Another late error by refs: Celts should have been called for shot-clock violation

MILWAUKEE -- The NBA’s two-minute report from Boston’s 92-87 Game 5 win on Tuesday confirmed what many thought at the time: A 3-point heave by Al Horford with 1:18 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Celtics leading 84-79 was not released prior to the 24-second shot clock expiring, and the Bucks should have been awarded the ball.
 
Following the game, Milwaukee interim head coach Joe Prunty was vocal in his belief that the officials made a mistake in not calling a 24-second violation. The lead official, Ken Mauer, told a pool reporter that the play was not reviewable because Horford missed the shot. Had he made it, the referees could have reviewed it.
 
“The rule states that under two minutes we are not allowed to review a potential 24-second violation unless the ball goes into the basket,” Mauer said.
 
Prunty understood the reason for the refusal to review the play, but that didn’t make it any easier to deal with. 
 
The Bucks were focused on getting the ball back and, trailing 84-79, would have had a chance to make it a one-possession game with about a minute to play. The call didn't cost Milwaukee any points, even though the Celtics successfully rebounded Horford's miss and retained possession; Marcus Morris subsequently missed a shot. Still, Boston was able to take about 20 seconds off the clock.

“That was a huge stop to get in Game 5 of a playoff series where both teams are putting everything on the line,” Prunty said after practice on Wednesday. “That’s a tough time to have a missed call. I know for me, I had a great view of it. So what I thought was a shot-clock violation was not called.”

In Sunday's Game 4, the NBA said Milwaukee's Khris Middleton should have been called for fouling Jaylen Brown with less than a minute to play as Brown drove to the basket attempting to extend Boston's 100-99 lead. Instead Brown lost the ball and the Bucks eventuallly pulled out a 104-102 victory.
 
That specific call was one of 15 made by the officials in the final two minutes of play. Of the calls made, the other 14 were correct calls or correct non-calls upon review.