Celtics

Jayson Tatum felt 'way more comfortable' against Sixers

Jayson Tatum felt 'way more comfortable' against Sixers

The way Jayson Tatum saw it, starting for the Celtics was a matter of when – not if – it would happen.

The 6-foot-8 forward got the call on Friday and proved he was up to the challenge with a fast start that helped Boston pull away for a 110-102 win over Philadelphia.

Tatum had nine points which included him making his first three shots from the field.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had told Tatum that he would be looking to start different lineups in the preseason, so Tatum assumed at some point he would be getting the call to play with the first unit.

Tatum said he felt “way more comfortable” against Philly in comparison to his first preseason game against Charlotte on Monday.

“I was more calm, relaxed,” Tatum said.

Part of that certainly had to do with him being on the floor to start the game with the team’s Big Three of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford in addition to his best friend on the team, Jaylen Brown.

Said Stevens: “I figured he would look good with those guys.”

Tatum added, “It makes it easier (starting). I’m playing with Gordon, Kyrie and Al. People not worrying about me. So when they help, I can make easy shots.”

For Tatum’s teammates, his play on Friday was just an extension of what he has been doing throughout the preseason in practice.

What often jumps out about Tatum when he’s on the floor, is the maturity he shows when it comes to doing what is necessary to be effective.

On offense, he was matched up early on with Philadelphia’s J.J. Redick who is at least four inches shorter. Rather than trying to back Redick down deep into the paint, Tatum backed him down just enough to where he was in his sweet, mid-range spot and simply shot over him.

And in transition, Tatum made a point of getting to the spots on the floor where he’s most comfortable.

Besides pulling up for jumpers in transition, Tatum also has the ability to put it on the floor and finished with a powerful one-handed dunk.

Irving has been quizzed about Tatum often, and admits he’s running low on superlatives when it comes to describing his teammate.

“I don’t know how many other quotes I can give you guys about Jayson,” said Irving who led all scorers with 21 points which included 5-for-7 from 3-point range. “He’s just such an awesome kid. He’s like a big kid. He’s just going to continue to get better and every single day he values that as we all do as teammates to encourage him and encourage each other.”

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Celtics achieve their biggest offseason goal: Re-signing Marcus Smart

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File photo

Celtics achieve their biggest offseason goal: Re-signing Marcus Smart

BOSTON -- Mission accomplished.

The Celtics went into the offseason planning to bring back all their core players from last season’s squad, which came within a victory of getting to the NBA Finals.

The last bit of business is now taken care of with Marcus Smart coming to terms on a four-year, $52 million contract.

A restricted free agent this summer, Smart was unable to secure an offer sheet from another team. The Celtics had maintained all along they would match any offer within a reasonable amount. 

They never put a specific number on how high they would go, but most league executives believed a team would have to sign Smart to an offer sheet of at least $15 million in order for the Celtics to allow him to walk.

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Signing Smart solidifies what’s shaping up as one of the deepest backcourts in the NBA. All-Star Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown are the starters, with Smart and Terry Rozier coming off the bench.

There were moments during negotiations when Smart was reportedly disappointed and frustrated by the lack of attention the Celtics were paying him through the process. But Boston maintained all along that re-signing him was its No. 1 priority, and that position never changed.

Even when Smart’s return was far from a given, the Celtics still had a roster that was viewed by many as one of the best in the NBA. When LeBron James left Cleveland to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, that instantly catapulted the Celtics to the top of the Eastern Conference. (Story continues below.)

 

At 1:26 mark: A. Sherrod Blakey, Kyle Draper, Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek discuss the Smart deal prior to its finalization

 

Now with Smart set to return, Boston’s position among its Eastern Conference brethren remains strong as ever, even with the Raptors trading for two-way standout Kawhi Leonard.

The Celtics' journey towards the NBA Finals will involve them leaning on a variety of players with a varying amount of strengths and skills. That's why re-signing Smart was so important.

The recipe for postseason success is an unpredictable one; it requires having as much elite versatility on the roster as possible. That's what Smart brings: An ability to impact games when there’s a great need for toughness defensively, which is often in the closing moments of matchups.

DJ BEAN

That’s why you’ll often find Smart on the floor in close games, regardless of how well or woeful he might be shooting that night.

Because as much as the analytics folks of the world would love to see better numbers by Smart when he’s on the floor, it always comes back to winning games for the 6-foot-4 guard.

And as much of a head-scratcher he may be when it comes to shooting, he never loses sight of the ultimate goal -- winning -- which is why Boston’s quest towards Banner 18 is even more alive and well with his return.

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NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kawhi Leonard finally traded; Marcus Smart back to the Celtics?

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NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kawhi Leonard finally traded; Marcus Smart back to the Celtics?

1:26 - Marcus Smart and the Celtics are reportedly finalizing a 4 year contract. A. Sherrod Blakey and Kyle Draper join Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to discuss the deal and debate if the Celtics are overpaying for Smart.

6:17 - Kawhi Leonard has finally been traded. The Spurs shipped him to the Raptors in a package centered around DeMar DeRozan. Cedric Maxwell breaks down who got the best end of the deal and if he was surprised Kawhi got sent to Toronto.

11:18 - Darrelle Revis has officially retired from the NFL after 11 seasons, including one season with the Patriots where he won his only Super Bowl ring. Chris Gasper along with Tanguay and Trenni discuss Revis’ legacy.  

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