BOSTON – For most of this season, Jayson Tatum has played with the kind of poise you don’t see in a rookie.
But as the 20-year-old will soon find out, the playoffs require a different level of focus and attention to detail – areas Tatum has thrived in all season.
That’s why despite the first-year forward getting his first taste of playoff basketball this afternoon, there’s no concerns among those around him that the moment will be too much for him.
“You know, I just believe in him,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “He’s a winner, he’s a competitor. He’s got a good emotional maturity to him. And he’s a very talented basketball player.”
Tatum averaged 13.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and a rookie-best 43.4 percent from 3-point range.
Speaking of 3’s, Tatum finished the regular season with a franchise-record 105 made three-pointers.
Marcus Morris has been a mentor of sorts for Tatum this season.
When it comes to the playoffs, Morris’ advice to Tatum has been pretty succinct.
“I told him to just do what he do, continue to play,” Morris said.
Tatum said his approach to his first playoffs series is to basically stick to what has worked for him already.
“Try to be aggressive, space the floor and we all have to defend out there, use our length,” Tatum said.
Here are five under-the-radar story lines heading into today’s Game 1 matchup between Boston and the Milwaukee Bucks.
The ‘If only …’ Game
It’s hard for Celtics fans to see Giannis Antetokounmpo do so many amazing things on the floor and not think about how he could have been a Celtic. Antetokounmpo was selected with the 15thoverall pick in the 2013 draft, one in which the Celtics had the 16th overall pick. However, Boston traded up three spots with the Dallas Mavericks to No. 13, to select Kelly Olynyk. The 7-foot Olynyk, who now plays for Miami, has had a decent NBA career but … he ain’t the Greek Freak!
STREAKING NOT ALWAYS A GOOD THING
Boston comes into today’s game having lost the first game in each of their last five trips to the playoffs, a streak they are focused on snapping today. The last time Boston began the postseason with a win was an 87-85 win over New York on April 17, 2011.
Boston is the third team Greg Monroe has played for this season, the first being the Milwaukee Bucks. Even though the Bucks have a different coach in Joe Prunty who replaced Jason Kidd in January, Monroe said the Bucks’ play calls are essentially the same as they were when he played which could be one of those things from time to time today, may result in the Celtics making a read on a play that gets you thinking, ‘how did they know that was coming?’ Well, Greg Monroe may be the reason.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks have made a habit out of getting out and scoring in a hurry. They have been really good since the All-Star break, averaging 17.6 points which ranks third in the NBA. Boston has no choice but to try and limit that with their defense, because the Celtics aren’t built to match them point-for-point in transition especially when you realize that since the all-star break, Boston has averaged a league-worst 8.8 fast-break points.
Boston has had its issues this season when it comes to rebounding the basketball, but they have been among the better teams since the All-Star break when it comes to getting second-chance points. They come into today’s game averaging 13.1 second-chance points since the break which ranks ninth in the NBA in that span.