Early start leads to more late heroics for Tatum

Early start leads to more late heroics for Tatum

BOSTON – As the Celtics began preparing for an earlier-than-usual game time on Saturday, Jayson Tatum acknowledged he would have spent that time on a normal game day napping away. 

But when needed, Tatum continues to answer the call as he helped escape the Celtics escape with a 116-111 victory over the Phoenix Suns at TD Garden.


Tatum had 15 points, with six coming early in the fourth quarter at a time when Boston needed an offensive lift from someone.

“Well, he certainly has always been a guy that’s been capable of scoring,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “That was something that you knew coming in; that was, everybody you talked to and watching him it was pretty clear that he was always going to be able to score the ball.”

But what we’ve seen from him in his rookie season is his willingness and ability to score in the fourth, which takes some of the scoring load off Kyrie Irving.

According to NBA.com/stats, Tatum averages 4.4 points scored in the fourth quarter which ranks sixth among all rookies, with the five first-year players ahead of him all logging more minutes than his team in the fourth quarter.

Tatum isn’t really sure why he has been one of the Celtics’ better scorers in the fourth.

“I guess it just happens that way. I don’t really think about it,” Tatum said. “I just try and find my opportunity and attack.”

Said Stevens: “He’s got a good fearlessness; he’s got a great demeanor, and he’s obviously extremely skilled. So, he was able to get to the rim on a couple different occasions and make big plays late.”

Kyrie Irving added, “He has the ability to get to open spots and make timely jump-shots as well as make drives to the basket that are uncanny for a young player.”

Here are some other stars, studs and duds from the 116-111 victory over Phoenix:

Devin Booker: It wasn’t quite like the 70-point explosion we saw last time he was at the TD Garden. But Booker’s scoring was once again impressive. He led all players with 38 points on 16-for-29 shooting from the field, along with five assists and four rebounds.

Kyrie Irving: It was a well-balanced scoring night for the Celtics, but once again it was Irving leading the charge. He led six double-figure scorers for Boston with 19 points, which included five points in the final few minutes.

Jaylen Brown: His scoring really helped Boston get off to a nice start, finishing with 17 points – 10 of which came in the first quarter and 15 by halftime.

Jayson Tatum: Like Irving, Tatum was seemingly at his best scoring the ball in the final few minutes of play. He had 15 points for the game, six of which came in the fourth quarter.

T.J. Warren: It wasn’t one of Warren’s most efficient nights scoring the ball, but he did tally 19 points on 8-for-19 shooting.

Al Horford: Big Al was wheelin’ and dealin’ all game for Boston, finishing with a double-double of 14 points and a career-high 11 assists to go with five rebounds and a blocked shot. 

Celtics rebounding: Boston has been in a bit of a funk lately when it comes to rebounding. The Suns (45-31) were the latest team to get the best of them on the glass. While the Celtics rank 10th this season in rebounds per game (45.0), opponents have gotten the best of them on the boards in their past six games. In that span, Boston averages 36.7 rebounds per game which ranks 28th in the NBA.


Bleacher Report puts Jayson Tatum on 'overhyped' list

Bleacher Report puts Jayson Tatum on 'overhyped' list

Bleacher Report ran a piece Tuesday listing the NBA's five "most overhyped players" entering the coming season. Jayson Tatum leads the list. Hold me back. 

These pieces are obviously subjective as hell, as they rely on "people probably think X," which may or may not be the reality of the situation. In the case of Tatum, writer Grant Hughes acknowledges that he feels Tatum is a franchise player, but that he could be a victim of the team for which he plays. 

Writes Hughes

Kyrie Irving has never been one to take a backseat, and with him back on the floor, it'll be much harder for Tatum to build on his postseason takeover. Throw Gordon Hayward into the mix, and there will be even fewer touches for the 20-year-old wing. And that's to say nothing of Jaylen Brown, who's a superior defender at the moment and averaged 18 points per game in the playoffs on more efficient shooting than Tatum managed. He's due for an increased role as well.

C's fans can first breathe at the fact that Hughes most certainly is not calling Tatum overrated. Then, if they're rational, they can wonder whether Hughes has a point. 

Tatum's five best scoring games of the regular season came with Kyrie out of the lineup, one of which was prior to Irving being shut down for the season. He obviously went on to average over four and a half points more in the postseason without Irving (18.5) than he did in the regular season (13.9). 

No, Tatum is not going to be the Celtics' top scorer this season. He also won't be a rookie again. Dude looked like he tacked on like 80 pounds of muscle like a month after the season ended. He's been in gyms destroying everyone from Joel Embiid to a hilarious assortment of camp-going children. He's out here mentoring Kobe

Even if Brad Stevens wants to get creative and have Tatum come off the bench (that doesn't need to happen; he can start the five best players), Tatum is a lethal enough offensive player to put up 20 a night. 

But back to the idea of him being overhyped. I don't think anyone's putting the kid in the MVP conversation. They probably just saw the third overall pick have a really good rookie year and figure that he'll continue to blossom into a star, if he isn't one already. 

The other players listed in the piece were DeMarcus Cousins, Zach LaVine, Josh Jackson and Kawhi Leonard. Leonard falls into the rule of thumb that if you're one of the five best players in the league, as Kawhi is, it's really easy for people to overhype you. That's not Leonard's fault. 

But the other guys? Who the heck is hyping -- let alone overhyping -- Zach LaVine? The only time Zach LaVine made headlines this summer was when he was given an offersheet by the Kings that most felt was too much and the Bulls matched it. Everyone thinks he's a stinky defensive player who's coming off an ACL injury. Unless there's some expectation that he's going to start averaging six or seven more points a night than he ever has, he isn't being overhyped. He's just overpaid. 

The Cousins pick could very well be fair. As Hughes writes, Boogie is a "luxury, not a game-changer for the Warriors." It's very possible that his impact on the Warriors won't be as significant as the league fears. Maybe he takes longer than expected to come back. Maybe when he does come back, he proves to be a divisive player with that group. Then again, maybe he gives them 25 and 12 a night and the Warriors go undefeated in the postseason. 

Selling Jackson as overhyped is tough. He's a second-year player who finished his rookie year on fire, including a 36-point performance against the Warriors. He sure as hell won't average 22.6 points like he did over his last 10 games as a rookie, but does anyone think he will? Nobody thinks he's a great shooter, but it's reasonable to expect something approaching the 18.7 he averaged post All-Star break, plus his usual strong defending.

Anyway, this Hughes fellow should have put Ben Simmons on the list. Guy never shoots threes. 


Knicks, Nets reportedly in mix for Kyrie-Butler combo in '19

Knicks, Nets reportedly in mix for Kyrie-Butler combo in '19

Remember those rumors of Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler teaming up in free agency next year? Well, that buzz is back and Boston isn't the rumored destination.

Two league sources told Business Insider that the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets could be well-positioned to land the two players, with one source saying the chatter is "substantial."

"It wouldn't surprise me if either New York team or potentially both New York teams hit it big next summer," one source said.

That echoes a Chicago Sun-Times report from July which said the Celtics and Timberwolves stars had been talking about how they could team up. Each player can opt out after this season and Irving has made it known he'll be heading to free agency. The Kyrie-to-the-Knicks rumors have been around for a while.