Still, what he did in the Celtics 99-91 comeback Game 2 win over Indiana was special.
It wasn’t just the fact he scored 26 points on 11-for-20 shooting.
It wasn’t that he had a big game on the same night fellow Dookie Kyrie Irving (37 points) also had a huge game for the Celtics, who now lead the Pacers 2-0 in their best-of-seven, first-round playoff series.
The night was special because Tatum is a special talent who delivered his best work when the game was on the line, late in the fourth quarter, in the postseason.
It was the kind of big-stage performance that so many have been longing to see from the second-year forward this year now that he’s sharing the court with Irving in the playoffs.
“It’s big,” Tatum said. “We knew Game 2, it’s all about adjustments.”
And if there’s one we saw from Tatum, it was him adjusting to being more of a go-to guy in the closing moments of a down-to-the-wire finish with the game up for grabs.
Trailing Indiana 91-89, the Pacers had the ball with a chance to make it a two-possession game with less than a minute to play before Al Horford blocked a driving shot attempt by Bojan Bogdanovic that triggered a Celtics break that ended with Jayson Tatum, with maybe the assist of the season from Jaylen Brown, draining a go-ahead 3-pointer with 50.8 seconds to play.
And for good measure, Tatum connected with a cutting Gordon Hayward for a lay-up that pushed Boston’s lead to 94-91.
Tatum would later cap off the night with a dunk-plus-the-foul with 8.8 seconds to play that cemented the victory and finished a 10-0 run to close out the game.
Following the game, much of the attention was paid to Irving and understandably so.
Nine of his 37 points had come in the fourth quarter which swung the game’s momentum, and the lead, back in Boston’s favor.
But here’s the thing.
That lead that Irving helped Boston claim, was soon lost.
After a pull-up jumper by Irving gave Boston an 86-82 lead, Indiana responded by scoring nine of the game’s next 14 points to lead 91-89 following a 3-pointer by Bogdanovic.
Then it was Tatum Time - he either scored or assisted on eight of Boston’s final 10 points - and showed the kind of late-game dominance that we have seen glimpses of in the past but never on a stage this bright playing alongside Irving, who Tatum acknowledged makes his job at times a lot easier.
“He draws a lot of attention. He’s special; he does some amazing things out there,” Tatum said. “It’s good for us to have a leader, someone who has been there, done that before. We’re looking forward to the next game.”
And more opportunities to deliver in the clutch when the Celtics need him to step up.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.