BOSTON -- Before Jayson Tatum left the Celtics' 119-95 blowout win over Memphis on Wednesday night with a groin injury, he was the best player on the floor.
Two nights earlier, Tatum was once again in basketball-assassin mode in a 32-point drubbing of the Los Angeles Lakers.
As Tatum went about burying one big shot after another in both games, pushing both Memphis and the Lakers into an abyss that they never could quite escape from, Kemba Walker wasn’t too far away, smiling at the masterful work being put in by his teammate.
Taking over games is something that Walker has done for most of his career.
In Boston, Walker acknowledged he’s looking for company, which is why he encourages Tatum to have a more dominate-the-moment mentality.
“He just has to become that killer, which he is,” Walker said. “It’s so fun to watch him and Jaylen; it’s so fun to be a part of their growth. But yeah, Jayson, he’s getting better each and every game. I’m just trying to have him embrace when it’s time to take those games over. I always tell him, ‘take over. Go get us this win. Keep scoring.’ he’s gotta become that killer.”
And the path towards having that mercenary-like mindset when it comes to taking games over is what separates good players from the greats.
Tatum has never been coy about expressing his desire to be among the best in the NBA.
Brown, who has missed three of the past four games with a thumb injury and ankle sprain, has also made his goal of being an elite, two-way player known.
Both have been instrumental in the Celtics’ success this season which has led to the duo being mentioned prominently as potential first-time All-Stars next month in Chicago.
Tatum is the Celtics' No. 2 scorer, averaging 21.5 points along with 6.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
Brown isn’t too far behind as the No. 3 scorer, averaging 20.0 points per game to go with 6.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
And while Walker arrived in Boston with the goal of helping lead the Celtics back to the top of the East, he knows he can’t do it alone.
He has a killa’s mentality when it comes to playing, an attitude he wants to see more of from Tatum and Brown going forward.
“These my brothers,” Walker said. “I want to see them succeed. I want them to be at their best. I’ve had a pretty good career so far. But, I’m also here to help and just really get guys to another level. Yeah, that’s what I want to do. I want to be part of things like that. Those two dudes, Jaylen and Jayson to be specific, are really special, very special.”
Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Magic, which begins Friday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.