Draymond insists Jayson Tatum is handling NBA Finals 'extremely well'

Jayson Tatum Draymond Green

Either Draymond Green is practicing some reverse psychology, or he's been genuinely impressed with Jayson Tatum in the 2022 NBA Finals.

Two days after the Celtics' 107-97 Game 4 loss to the Warriors at TD Garden -- in which Tatum hit just 8 of 23 shots for 23 points and committed six turnovers -- Green came to the defense of the Boston Celtics star, who is shooting just 34.1 percent from the floor in his first career NBA Finals.

"I mean, it's tough. You're experiencing something for the first time," Green told reporters Sunday. "I think he's handled it well. He's maybe not shot the ball as well as he'd like or everyone else would like, but overall I think he's been playing well, and that's why it's a 2-2 series coming back for Game 5."

Tomase: This C's legend proves Tatum still has time to dominate Finals

Tatum has been an inconsistent scorer in this series, going 3 for 17 in a Game 1 loss and topping his regular-season scoring average (26.9 points) just once in four games. He has thrived as a playmaker, however, leading all players in the Finals with 7.8 assists per game and setting an NBA Finals record with 13 dimes in his Game 1 debut.

"I think he's handling it all extremely well," Green said. "He's taking what the defense gives him, and that's what great players do. But I think he's doing a good job."

Green was only a year older than Tatum (25) when he made his NBA Finals debut in 2015, so he knows it's not easy to deal with that much pressure at a young age. Tatum also is facing extra scrutiny as Boston's superstar, so he won't find any sympathy from critics, even if a nagging right shoulder injury might be affecting his shot.


To Green's point, however, Tatum has maintained a steady approach despite his struggles.

"That's all I really care about right now is winning," Tatum said Sunday ahead of Game 5 in San Francisco on Monday night. "Whether you win or you don't win, you guys will debate rankings or what does that matter for your legacy and things like that. That's kind of not up to me.

"In this moment ... just trying to do what I can to impact winning by all costs."

Tatum's facilitating has been a bright spot in this series, but Boston needs is First-Team All-NBA star to take over offensively if it wants to take Game 5 on the road. And while Green was complimentary of his USA Basketball teammate Sunday, he certainly won't be friendly with Tatum on Monday at Chase Center as the Warriors try to extend his shooting woes.