Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Bucks, which tips off Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call of the game at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.
BOSTON — As Jayson Tatum made the media rounds prior to the start of this season, it was pretty clear that he had every intention of asserting himself more than ever as a scorer.
Three games into the season and Tatum has indeed been a man of his word. The third-year forward is off to a career-best season, registering big numbers in several areas with one standing out above all others — 20.3.
Not only is that Tatum’s scoring average, but it’s also the number of shot attempts he’s taking per game.
While his shooting percentage from the field (34.4 percent) isn’t where he or the Celtics would want it to be, it’s encouraging that he’s showing little to no hesitation when it comes to attacking defenses either with his dribble pull-up game, or dribble-drive into the lane looking to finish at the rim.
And remember this.
Tatum has shot less than 37 percent from the field in each of Boston’s first three games, but has never in his pro career ever dipped below that shooting mark in four straight games.
Tatum’s willingness to get to the rim will be one of the keys for the Celtics in tonight’s matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Here are five other factors to watch for in tonight’s game.
A win tonight would improve Boston’s record to 3-1, making it just the second time in the last nine seasons that the Celtics opened the season with wins in three of their first four games. The only other time that has happened in the last nine seasons was in 2016-2017.
That season, the Celtics wound up losing four of their next games following the 3-1 start and ended the season by losing in five games in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
ANTETOKOUNMPO’S HISTORIC START
By no means is Giannis Antetokounmpo a lock to be the league’s MVP for the second year in a row. But he’s certainly not going to make it easy for those coming for the crown.
The 6-foot-11 do-it-all Antetokounmpo has scored 73 points, grabbed 40 rebounds and dished out 27 assists in Milwaukee’s first three games. The only other player in NBA history to register those numbers or better in their first three games of the season was Oscar Robertson (97 points, 31 rebounds, 37 assists) who did so in 1961.
TATUM IN EXCLUSIVE COMPANY
There’s a lot of attention paid to what Jayson Tatum is doing as a scorer this season. But three games in, it’s clear that he wants to be more than just a player who gets buckets.
And he has indeed shown the ability to rack up stats in a multitude of categories.
This season, he’s averaging 20.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game. The only other player in the NBA this season thus far who is putting up similar numbers or better is Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns. This season, he’s averaging 32.0 points, 13.3 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game.
It’s hard to believe that if Marcus Smart doesn’t make another 3-pointer all season, he will be ranked among the all-time leaders in Celtics history when it comes to made 3-pointers.
He’s currently ranked seventh with 452 made 3-pointers. Up next is Isaiah Thomas, who made 460 three-pointers when he played for Boston.
STAT TO TRACK
Tonight’s game will feature two of the best when it comes to fast break points. The Bucks are really good at making teams pay by getting out in transition, which has fueled their league-best 22 points per game scoring average in fast-break points.
Meanwhile, Boston’s transition defense has been among the unexpected surprises in this still-young NBA season. The Celtics come into tonight’s game allowing just nine fast-break points per game, which is the fifth-lowest average in the NBA this season.
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