Celtics

Celtics

INDIANAPOLIS -- For most of the regular season, there have been questions - legit ones - about Jayson Tatum’s aggressiveness.

That wasn’t an issue in the unexpected beatdown of the Indiana Pacers on Friday night, a game in which Tatum tallied 22 points on 9-for-19 shooting with seven rebounds, three steals, two assists and a blocked shot.

And if you believe Tatum, the breakout game was just one of what he anticipates will be a series of difference-making, high-impact performances on his part that will spill into the postseason.

“Playoff Jay,” quipped Tatum to NBC Sports Boston. “Hopefully I can keep it up.”

For those who don’t remember, Tatum was arguably Boston’s best player in the postseason a year ago when the Celtics shocked the basketball world and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals only to come up short in Game 7 to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

In 19 playoff games, Tatum averaged a team-best 18.5 points a year ago as a rookie, shooting 47.1 percent from the field.

Of course, those numbers came without Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward around due to injuries. They're both back this season and playing some of their best basketball right now. 

Still, how well they play won’t affect Tatum’s impact, particularly when he is being as aggressive, as we saw on Friday night against the Pacers. 

Tatum seemed eager to attack each and every matchup that was in his favor, beating players to the rim with his dribble-drive game. And when they tried to take that away, he made them pay with his 3-point shot. 

 

“I thought it was more off of cuts and attacking closeouts, but he did a good job with that, a really good job with that,” said coach Brad Stevens.

It was a preview of Playoff J, for sure. 

“I’m trying to be better,” Tatum said. “I know it’s that time of the year. I’m trying to be aggressive, be the best player I can be. It’s that time of the season.”

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