Celtics

Stars, studs and duds: Tatum 'going to be a heck of a shooter'

Stars, studs and duds: Tatum 'going to be a heck of a shooter'

BOSTON – Following Boston’s 111-100 win over Milwaukee, Marcus Morris could only shake his head when the topic of discussion centered on Jayson Tatum.

Tatum finished with 17 points on 5-for-6 shooting. Of his 17 points, 14 came in the first quarter.

“You come out (scoring) like that, you should have a career high by the end of the night,” Morris quipped.

No need to rush things.

The 19-year-old rookie will have plenty of opportunities in the future to build upon what has been a strong foundation in his first NBA season.

It’s not just a coincidence that what head coach Brad Stevens saw as the best “we’ve played offensively all year” in the first half, was also the best half of play for Tatum this season.

What continues to stand out about Tatum is his consistency in terms of shooting the ball.

He came into Monday’s game shooting a league-best 48.6 percent from 3-point range.

That figure rose to 51.3 percent after Monday’s game in which he was 4-for-5 from beyond the 3-point line.

“It’s just repetition,” Tatum said.

Said Al Horford: “It was just a lot of fun to see him have some success early and I feel like because of those three’s he kind of opened the game up for the rest of us.”

The Celtics felt good about Tatum’s perimeter shooting leading up to the draft.

But it was his workout that sold them on him potentially being a big-time, long-range shooter sooner rather than later.

“When he came in for his workout … he made a lot of shots. And it looked effortless, and that’s usually a pretty good sign,” Stevens said. “He’s going to be a heck of a shooter.”

And as far as that career high?

“Maybe next time,” said Tatum, grinning.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 111-100 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.

 

STARS

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The scary part about the Greek Freak’s play was the Celtics actually did a good job of contesting a lot of his shots. It didn’t do a lot of good, with Antetokounmpo finishing with 40 points on 14-for-24 shooting with nine rebounds and four assists.

Kyrie Irving

The points continue to come right on time for Irving and the Celtics. Irving led Boston with 32 points on 13-for-24 shooting along with four rebounds and two steals.

Al Horford

The impact of Horford on this Celtics team at both ends of the floor continues to be one of the team’s keys to success. It was yet another highly efficient night at the office for Horford who had a near triple-double of 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting to go with nine rebounds and eight assists with one blocked shot.

 

STUDS

Jayson Tatum

He came out the gates red-hot for Boston, scoring 14 of his 17 points in the first quarter. He also had six rebounds.

Eric Bledsoe

The Bucks are playing better basketball lately, and the addition of Bledsoe has a lot to do with it. Against the Celtics, he had 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting with three rebounds and three assists.

Khris Middleton

Middleton did a lot of good things for the Bucks offensively, scoring 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting along with eight rebounds and five assists, two steals and a blocked shot.

 

DUD

Marcus Morris

This was not one of his better nights shooting the ball. He was among the legion of defenders Boston called upon to help limit the Greek Freak. But unlike most of his teammates, Morris just didn’t have it going offensively tonight. He finished with three points while missing five of his six shot attempts from the field.

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Time for Celtics to shake off the blues in Memphis

Time for Celtics to shake off the blues in Memphis

As the Celtics’ players gathered their belongings and headed out for tonight’s game in Memphis, Gordon Hayward took a seat at his locker stall, the first one you come across when you enter the Celtics’ locker room.

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Like most of us trying to make sense of Boston’s 107-95 loss to Utah, Hayward could sense the disappointment among his teammates. 

He offered a few words of encouragement to teammate Semi Ojeleye, whose locker was next to his, soon followed by a few more words for Jaylen Brown whose mindset was already on to the next game tonight at Memphis.

“We’re going to come out, respond, play as hard as we can,” said Brown, who added, “just come out and get a win against Memphis.”

That “on-to-the-next-one” mantra has served Boston well this season and they'll look to continue along those lines against the Grizzlies tonight.

Despite losses in three of their past five, the Celtics (24-7) still have the best record in the East – two games ahead of Cleveland (21-8).

“We got a big one [tonight],” said Terry Rozier. “We just have to pay attention to the details and take care of business.”

Here are under the radar storylines heading into tonight’s game against Memphis.

THE AL AND KYRIE SHOW
We have seen these two work in sync with one another for a good chunk of this season, so it was not all that surprising to see both play well against the Jazz. They combined to score 54 of Boston’s 95 points, or 56.8 percent of their scoring. And when it came to setting up teammates, they had 13 of Boston’s 20 assists, or 65 percent. They don’t have to be that dominant tonight, but putting up comparable numbers – and maybe getting one or two players to chip in as well – would go far in Boston getting back on a winning track.

THE "NEW" COACH
J.B. Bickerstaff became Memphis’ interim head coach after the organization fired David Fizdale after a 7-12 start. Like any interim head coach, he’s trying his best to make a favorable impression so that the "interim" tag will be dropped. So far? Not great. The Grizzlies have lost eight of 10 since Fizdale’s firing in large part because of injuries – which was among the factors that contributed to Fizdale’s struggles. This isn’t Bickerstaff’s first go-around as an NBA head coach. As an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets, he was named the interim coach when Kevin McHale was fired in 2015. Bickerstaff went 37-34 and led the Rockets to the first round of the playoffs where they were eliminated in five games by the Golden State Warriors.


 
REBOUNDING
Talent, timing and effort all go hand-in-hand when it comes to rebounding success, with effort being the most critical component. And against the Jazz, Boston just didn’t seem to bring it at any point in the game. And the end result was a 55-31 rebounding advantage for the Jazz. Boston may catch a break tonight against the Grizzlies, who come into tonight’s game with a rebounding percentage of .478 which ranks 27th (out of 30 teams) in the NBA.


 
D ON THE DECLINE
Friday night’s game against Utah was yet another underwhelming performance by Boston’s defense. The Celtics had a defensive rating of 109.3.  For the season, the Celtics still have the league’s top defense – barely. Their 100.6 defensive rating is just a smidge better than Oklahoma City (100.7). And once again, Boston might get some relief tonight against a Memphis team that has struggled offensively all season. They come into the game with an offensive rating of 101.4, which ranks 27th in the league.

JAYSON TATUM
It’s still too soon to say if Tatum has hit the rough patch all first-year players endure – better known as the rookie wall – but there’s no question his scoring of late has been off. The past three games, Tatum, 19, has scored a total of 26 points, which is the fewest he has scored in a three-game stretch as a pro. The rookie had seven points on 1-for-7 shooting against the Jazz, bringing his shooting numbers in the past three games to a not-so-great 8-for-22 (36.4 percent).

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WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Memphis Grizzlies

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WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Grizzlies in Memphis. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: C's look to reverse some disturbing trends in Memphis 

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

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