Celtics

Stars, studs and duds: Tatum 'going to be a heck of a shooter'

Stars, studs and duds: Tatum 'going to be a heck of a shooter'

BOSTON – Following Boston’s 111-100 win over Milwaukee, Marcus Morris could only shake his head when the topic of discussion centered on Jayson Tatum.

Tatum finished with 17 points on 5-for-6 shooting. Of his 17 points, 14 came in the first quarter.

“You come out (scoring) like that, you should have a career high by the end of the night,” Morris quipped.

No need to rush things.

The 19-year-old rookie will have plenty of opportunities in the future to build upon what has been a strong foundation in his first NBA season.

It’s not just a coincidence that what head coach Brad Stevens saw as the best “we’ve played offensively all year” in the first half, was also the best half of play for Tatum this season.

What continues to stand out about Tatum is his consistency in terms of shooting the ball.

He came into Monday’s game shooting a league-best 48.6 percent from 3-point range.

That figure rose to 51.3 percent after Monday’s game in which he was 4-for-5 from beyond the 3-point line.

“It’s just repetition,” Tatum said.

Said Al Horford: “It was just a lot of fun to see him have some success early and I feel like because of those three’s he kind of opened the game up for the rest of us.”

The Celtics felt good about Tatum’s perimeter shooting leading up to the draft.

But it was his workout that sold them on him potentially being a big-time, long-range shooter sooner rather than later.

“When he came in for his workout … he made a lot of shots. And it looked effortless, and that’s usually a pretty good sign,” Stevens said. “He’s going to be a heck of a shooter.”

And as far as that career high?

“Maybe next time,” said Tatum, grinning.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 111-100 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.

 

STARS

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The scary part about the Greek Freak’s play was the Celtics actually did a good job of contesting a lot of his shots. It didn’t do a lot of good, with Antetokounmpo finishing with 40 points on 14-for-24 shooting with nine rebounds and four assists.

Kyrie Irving

The points continue to come right on time for Irving and the Celtics. Irving led Boston with 32 points on 13-for-24 shooting along with four rebounds and two steals.

Al Horford

The impact of Horford on this Celtics team at both ends of the floor continues to be one of the team’s keys to success. It was yet another highly efficient night at the office for Horford who had a near triple-double of 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting to go with nine rebounds and eight assists with one blocked shot.

 

STUDS

Jayson Tatum

He came out the gates red-hot for Boston, scoring 14 of his 17 points in the first quarter. He also had six rebounds.

Eric Bledsoe

The Bucks are playing better basketball lately, and the addition of Bledsoe has a lot to do with it. Against the Celtics, he had 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting with three rebounds and three assists.

Khris Middleton

Middleton did a lot of good things for the Bucks offensively, scoring 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting along with eight rebounds and five assists, two steals and a blocked shot.

 

DUD

Marcus Morris

This was not one of his better nights shooting the ball. He was among the legion of defenders Boston called upon to help limit the Greek Freak. But unlike most of his teammates, Morris just didn’t have it going offensively tonight. He finished with three points while missing five of his six shot attempts from the field.

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New deal in hand, Marcus Smart says, 'Boston loves me, I love Boston'

New deal in hand, Marcus Smart says, 'Boston loves me, I love Boston'

Marcus Smart is right where he wants to be, a member of the Celtics.

But Smart, 24, who signed a four-year, $52 million deal on Thursday, readily admits that there was a time not that long ago when he wasn’t sure about his future in Boston when negotiations didn't go nearly as smooth as he would have liked.

“At one moment, I didn’t really know what to think,” Smart said in a conference call with reporters on Friday. “My main focus has been on my mom and my family.”

His mother Camellia Smart was recently diagnosed with bone marrow cancer.

“When you go through adversity with something like this in your family, it puts things in perspective and everything else becomes kind of a blur to you,” Smart said.

One thing that is clear has been his Smart's impact on the Celtics.

The 6-foot-4 guard has been among the league’s top on-the-ball defenders for years, showcasing a level of defensive versatility that stands out.

Boston allowed just 99.5 points per 100 possessions when Smart was on the floor, which ranked among the league's leaders among guards who played 41 or more games.

And while he is often criticized for his shooting struggles (a career 36-percent shooter from the field, 29.3 percent from 3-point range), Smart still averaged a respectable 10.2 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game last season primarily as Boston’s first guard off the bench.

Despite a solid season, the free agent marketplace was not kind one to him.

One of the main reasons for that? Smart was a restricted free agent, which meant the Celtics would have the right to match any offer sheet he signed.

Smart was also hurt by the fact that there were fewer teams with the kind of financial flexibility to put forth an offer sheet that would make the Celtics strongly consider letting him walk.

But even before Smart hit free agency, Danny Ainge and the entire Celtics organization made it absolutely crystal clear that they wanted him back.

And as the free agency period dragged on, the Celtics - at least in their words - never hedged from that position.

In the end, those words were put into action. 

"Keeping Marcus in a Celtics uniform was a top priority, said Ainge, the Celtics' president of basketball operations. "His intensity is unmatched, and the level of toughness that he brings to the team throughout the course of the entire season is second to none."

Smart acknowledged that the process became a bit frustrating at times.

“I didn’t know where I was going to end up at,” Smart said.

And while that uncertainty was difficult to deal with, Smart actually looks back upon the experience and describes it as “a fun thing.”

“As frustrating as it is,” Smart added, “not many people in the world can say that they’re in talks to play for an NBA team, to make a dream become a reality. Being able to do things they never imagined they would be able to do. This whole time, even with everything going on, me not knowing where I could end up, it was still fun, exciting for me.”

And those fun, exciting times will continue for the longest-tenured member of the Celtics.

“Boston loves me, I love Boston. Boston wants me to be here, I want to be here,” Smart said. “I am here so, we made it work.”

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NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Marcus Smart is back, but is he worth the money?

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NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Marcus Smart is back, but is he worth the money?

1:32 - Marcus Smart is back! Michael Holley, Tom Giles and Danielle Trotta discuss the 4-year, $52 million deal the guard signed with the Celtics on Thursday and debate whether or not he’s worth the money.

7:36 - According to Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal, the issues between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady haven’t been resolved, but then we have Danny Amendola on Barstool’s “Comeback Szn Podcast” disputing this. Phil Perry, Tom Giles and Michael Holley try to make some sense of it all.

12:49 - After J.D. Martinez said that this Red Sox team is like a family, it has Tom Giles and Danielle Trotta wondering if the club has an identity and what that might be.

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