Tatum fine with being 'the blame guy' amid Celtics' struggles


At 23 years old, Jayson Tatum is one of the younger players on the Celtics' roster. But he's well aware of his leadership role in Boston.

In his postgame press conference Friday after a frustrating loss to the San Antonio Spurs in which the Celtics failed to score in the final 3:21, Tatum said he accepts the responsibility of taking blame when he or his team plays poorly.

"It's frustrating. It's tough. I guess being in my position, you've got to take it on the chin," Tatum said, as seen in the video player above. "A lot of people look to you for why certain things happen, and we're going through a little adversity right now: losing two in a row and a game we should have won.

"I'm fine with it. I'm fine with I guess being the reason, the blame guy. It doesn't bother me at all."

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Marcus Smart is the Celtics' longest-tenured player, while the 35-year-old Al Horford is the most experienced. But Tatum and Jaylen Brown are Boston's unquestioned stars, which means they'll face criticism when the Celtics fail to meet expectations.

That's been the case early this season, as Boston sits 10th in the Eastern Conference at 10-10 while plagued by injuries and poor late-game execution.

Tatum saw a silver lining in Friday's loss, though, pointing out that his team rallied from a 27-point deficit to take a fourth-quarter lead before sputtering down the stretch.


"If you're down 27 and you come back and you're up seven, like, you've got to be fighting, you've got to be competing," Tatum said. "We've been trying to figure it out. We're not perfect."

" ... I understand it's a long season, but we're going to figure it out. I'm certain of it. I know we've got a lot of guys who are going to compete and going to fight."

The Celtics have played well in spurts but have struggled mightily late in games with just a 4-7 record in "clutch" contests (score within five points with under five minutes to play).

As Boston's star offensive player, Tatum needs to elevate his own play and the play of others to help buck that trend, and it seems like he's willing to bear that burden.