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Jayson Tatum is happy to share the spotlight as long as Boston keeps on winning

Celtics have been a 'balanced team' vs. Mavericks
Dan Patrick reacts to the Boston Celtics taking Game 2 of the NBA Finals vs. the Dallas Mavericks, explaining why Kristaps Porzingis, Jrue Holiday and the depth of the Celtics set them apart in the series.

BOSTON — You’d be forgiven if, for long stretches of Game 2 Sunday night, you didn’t notice Jayson Tatum was on the court. He wasn’t scoring much and wasn’t impacting the game in the direct ways he usually does.

He’s good with that because Boston is winning and is now two games away from an NBA championship.

“I’ve been here before and we didn’t win, and it’s just like, you know, we’re so close to what we’re trying to accomplish, why would I let my ego or my need to score all the points gets in the way of that?” Tatum asked after Game 2. “There are going to be times where I need to score, and obviously, I need to shoot better. Golly. But you know, really, we always talk about ‘do whatever it takes for however long it takes.’ If I need to have 16 potential assists every single night and that’s what puts us in the best position to win and it doesn’t mean I’m the leading scorer, by all means, if that gives us the best chance to win, sign me up.”

Golly, he does need to shoot better. Through two games Tatum is shooting 12-of-38 (31.6%) in the Finals and is 4-of-14 from 3 as part of that. He has disappeared at points on offense.

However, Tatum’s fingerprints are still on the games — he leads Boston in assists (17) and rebounds (20), plus he’s in the middle of their elite defense. Through two games he has scored or created (via assist) 74 points, the most of any Celtic (Jaylen Brown is at 65, Jrue Holiday 60).

“I mean, every time I’d take a couple of dribbles, there was, like, three people were right there,” Tatum said of his offensive hesitancy. “So we got a bunch of shooters on our team and guys that can space the floor. They kept leaving Jrue open. So it wasn’t like I had to do anything spectacular. It was just about finding the open guy.”

“Everybody that stepped on that court today made winning plays on both ends of the floor, is the most important thing,” Mazzulla said, emphasizing team play throughout his postgame press conference. “To answer your question, Jayson makes greatness look easy. He does it in a lot of different ways. He does it on defense, he does it on rebounding, he does it on passing, he does it on screening. He’s a tremendous player and not hard to coach him. When he has the ability to affect the game in different ways, we’re a different team.”

That depth and versatility has Boston up 2-0 in the NBA Finals. Tatum is part of the maturity this version of the Celtics has shown — plenty of young stars (and a few older ones) would let their egos get in the way and feel they needed to score to lead their team, Tatum knows better. He knows how good this team is. He knows it doesn’t matter if Jaylen Brown or Jrue Holiday gets named NBA Finals MVP, so long as banner No. 18 goes up.