Celtics

Celtics-Trail Blazers Takeaways: Tatum has 36 for an encore; C's roll in Portland

Celtics-Trail Blazers Takeaways: Tatum has 36 for an encore; C's roll in Portland

Jayson Tatum had the best game of his life in Los Angeles, dropping 41 on LeBron & Co. 

His encore performance in Portland was just as impressive, as Boston's All-Star delivered yet another brilliant scoring effort to lead the Celtics to a 118-106 win. 

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Tatum finished with 36 points against the Blazers, mixing in yet another array of dribble-drive baskets, 3-pointers (he had a career-high eight 3’s) and finishes at the rim. 

This was actually a better performance for Tatum because of the game’s outcome. 

The Celtics, playing without Kemba Walker (knee) for the third game in a row, got contributions from several players in addition to Tatum. 

Still, this game was yet another one where Tatum was again the best player on the floor. 

KILLER 3’S

The Celtics were looking for the 3-point shot early and often, and considering who they were playing…you can understand why. 

Boston has been a top-10 team from 3-point range most of this season, while the Blazers have been among the NBA’s worst teams when it comes to defending the 3. 

Portland came in allowing 13 made 3's per game, a total that the Celtics reached after just three quarters of play. 

Boston finished with a season-high 19 made 3-pointers.

This was another game in which the Celtics faced an opponent with a clear weakness and to their credit, they took full advantage. 

JAYLEN BROWN

Boston began to put some distance between itself and Portland in the second quarter and Brown’s play had a lot to do with it. 

He would finish with 24 points, 12 of which came in the second quarter, which ended with the Celtics leading, 56-48.

Following the loss to the Lakers on Sunday, Brown talked about how Tatum had elevated his play to another level, and the rest of the Celtics - himself included - had to step up as well. 

Tuesday was a strong step in that direction, for sure. 

BRAD WANAMAKER

It has been a rough few games for Wanamaker, who came into Tuesday 3-for-14 (21.4 percent) from the field in his past two games. 

Wanamaker was much better on Tuesday, scoring 13 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field. 

But more than the scoring, Wanamaker played with more poise and was among the keys to Boston getting the win. 

If you’re the Celtics, you’re hoping the backup guard will build off his solid performance especially with Walker missing the past three games and no clear indication when exactly will he will be back. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Jazz, which begins Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

Hindsight 2020: Would more Jayson Tatum have pushed Celtics to NBA Finals in 2018?

Hindsight 2020: Would more Jayson Tatum have pushed Celtics to NBA Finals in 2018?

Jayson Tatum was in his basketball bag, giving LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers all they could handle. 

He was scoring in an efficient manner (24 points on 9-for-17 shooting), rebounding the ball (seven rebounds) and making big shots.

And he was doing this on one of the biggest stages of them all: Game 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals.

A 3-pointer by Tatum put the Celtics ahead 72-71 with six minutes to play, a shot that capped off a Tatum surge in which he had scored seven of Boston’s last nine points. 

And then … nothing. 

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He took only one shot after that and missed it, going scoreless for the rest of the game.

The Celtics that year were a team that leaned on whoever had the hot hand. 

But on this particular night, they needed help figuring out who that was in the closing minutes — and in hindsight, head coach Brad Stevens should have stepped in and done more to implore his team to get the ball to Tatum in a better position to score. 

However Stevens stuck to what had worked so well for so long with this group: letting this young band of ballers figure out on their own who to lean on when it mattered most, as contributions seemed to come from a new player on a nightly basis.

But on this stage with all that was at stake, they absolutely needed Stevens to implore them to go to Tatum … a lot. 

And now, two years later, the domino effect of that game’s outcome is still felt. 

Brad Stevens has been at the helm for seven years here in Boston and ranks among the franchise’s winningest coaches ever. 

But in that Game 7 in 2018, the Celtics were less than six minutes away from getting to the NBA Finals, which is as close as this franchise has come to winning a title during Stevens' reign. 

When you look at the overall body of work since Stevens arrived in Boston in 2013, there are very few instances in which a decision or non-decision on his part stands out in a bad way. 

But this was one of those times. 

Yes, the Celtics were playing without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, who were both sidelined with injuries. 

And yes, there are undeniable benefits in having so many young players step their game up despite being without a pair of All-Stars in Irving and Hayward. 

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But as we’ve seen here in Boston and throughout the NBA, getting to the NBA Finals is not guaranteed for any team regardless of how much promise they show going forward.

And to be as close as they were at that time, there’s no way to completely move on from that sting of missing out — other than to take that next step and actually reach the Finals. 

You can go through all the missed shots and free throws and blown assignments defensively and find factors that led to Boston coming up short in that game.

But none looms larger than the Celtics' inability to put Tatum in a better position to score the ball in the final minutes. 

While the pain from that loss has in many ways helped Boston’s young core grow, the gains for the Celtics and the Tatum-Brown tandem would have been even greater had that group as they were constructed advanced to the Finals. 

When it comes to players making plays when it counts, of course it’s ultimately on them to deliver. 

But efforts must be made to best position players to come through in the clutch, the one thing in hindsight the Celtics could have done a better job in what was — and still is — the toughest loss for this franchise in the Stevens era.

2020 NBA Mock Draft 4.0: Teams still on schedule for June

2020 NBA Mock Draft 4.0: Teams still on schedule for June

The NBA season may be at a standstill, but that won’t slow NBA teams down from preparing for the upcoming draft that’s currently slated for June 25. 

While this draft is short on star power like this year’s NBA rookie class, which includes Zion Williamson of New Orleans, Ja Morant in Memphis and New York’s R.J. Barrett, all of whom turned in strong first seasons in the NBA, there’s still plenty of talent to pick over in the coming weeks. 

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And the Celtics will get their shot — make that shots, plural — with three first-round picks this year. 

Here’s a look at the Celtics’ possible draft plans as well as those of the rest of the NBA in the latest NBC Sports Boston NBA Mock Draft. 

Click here for the gallery.