Mannix: Are Tatum's reactions to refs costing Celtics on the court?


If you've watched any recent Boston Celtics games, this sequence may sound familiar: Jayson Tatum drives to the hoop, misses the layup, and shoots an exasperated look at an official after not hearing a whistle.

Tatum certainly isn't alone in this behavior -- pretty much every NBA player complains to the refs about no-calls. But Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix believes Tatum might be taking things a step too far.

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"I am concerned -- specifically with Tatum, who's having a lot of different problems -- about they way they're stalled right now," Mannix said Tuesday on NBC Sports Boston when asked about the development of Tatum and Jaylen Brown. "Tatum's complaining to the refs is a big problem. I think it's a big problem for the Celtics.

"We watch these games. Jayson Tatum is not falling victim to the same type of stuff James Harden is. James Harden is having to play a completely different style because the rules have changed. ... I'm watching the egregious nature in which Tatum is reacting, and I'm looking at the replay and I'm like, 'He didn't even get fouled.' Like, it wasn't like you got hit in a way the league isn't adjudicating out. You didn't even get fouled.

"We've seen a couple of examples, including in the last game against Chicago, where his reaction to non-calls has cost the Celtics on the other end of the floor. So, he has got to learn to play through this stuff and to play more physical to get to the free-throw line more than he is."


As our Chris Forsberg observed, there was an instance in the fourth quarter of Monday's loss to the Bulls where Tatum didn't get back on defense in time after reacting to a no-call, leading to free throws for Chicago at the other end.

That sequence was part of Boston's historic fourth-quarter collapse, and there have been other examples of Tatum not getting back on defense quickly enough after reacting to a no-call.

Fortunately for the Celtics, Tatum's issue should be fixable. He's still just 23 years old, and new head coach Ime Udoka should be able to help Tatum learn how to not let the refs affect his mentality -- or at the very least, save his discussions for officials until after the whistle.

If Tatum can take that element out of his game while being more aggressive offensively -- he currently ranks 22nd in the NBA in free throw attempts per game at 5.1, down slightly from his 5.3 average last season -- that would go a long way toward Boston turning the corner.