Did Raptors coach help force Tatum's costly Game 6 turnover?

Nick Nurse

Jayson Tatum's errant pass near the end of regulation in Wednesday's Game 6 thriller was a bit of a head-scratcher -- until you watch the replay.

The Boston Celtics had possession with under a minute to play in a tie game against the Toronto Raptors when Tatum inexplicably fired a pass out of bounds, several feet from where teammate Daniel Theis was standing.

So, what did Tatum see? Upon further review, it could have been Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, who left the coaching box to conveniently stand right near where Tatum misfired his pass.

Tatum owned his turnover after the game and insisted Nurse's positioning didn't cause his errant pass.

"That was my fault. Can’t blame Nick Nurse. He’s not playing. It was my fault," Tatum told reporters.

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Still, it's not a stretch to assume Nurse influenced Tatum's turnover by getting in the Celtics star's peripheral vision. It's also not a stretch to say Nurse shouldn't have been standing there, as C's wing Jaylen Brown suggested with some pointed postgame comments.

"Things like that — sometimes things seem to go overboard at times," Brown told reporters when asked about Tatum's turnover. "Let’s keep it in check. Let’s keep it respectable, and let’s keep playing basketball. Grown men should be able to control themselves, especially coaching staffs."

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The Athletic's Sam Amick reported the Celtics were "furious" about this play and thought Nurse intentionally tried to trick Tatum into passing the ball his way, while the Raptors reportedly defended their head coach by pointing out he was wearing a gray shirt, not Celtics green.


In any case, the damage was done: Tatum's miscue cost the Celtics a chance to win the game in regulation, and the Raptors made them pay with a 125-122 win in double overtime to force a Game 7 on Friday night.