"Why would I let my ego or my need to score get in the way"- Jayson Tatum shows maturity citing 2022 NBA Finals heartbreak

NBA: Finals-Dallas Mavericks at Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum shows maturity citing 2022 NBA Finals heartbreak

Jayson Tatum made his intentions clear of focusing on helping the Boston Celtics beyond his scoring. Tatum endured another inefficient scoring night of the 2024 NBA Playoffs in Game 2 of the finals on Sunday. He tallied only 18 points, shooting a measly 27.3%.

However, he was just as crucial as any other Celtics player again because of his elite defense, playmaking and rebounding. Tatum had nine boards and 12 dimes, playing a team-high 45 minutes. The Celtics star addressed why he's shown willingness to make his presence felt beyond just scoring the big points, saying:

“I’ve been here before and we didn’t win. We’re so close to what we’re trying to accomplish. Why would I let my ego or my need to score get in the way of that?”

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Tatum averaged 21.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 7.0 assists in the 2022 NBA finals loss to the Golden State Warriors. He shot 36.7% while not making much impact on defense compared to what he's doing against the Mavericks. Despite his inefficient stretch in 2022, he made 20.0 attempts a game.

Jayson Tatum has done a much better job of reading what the defense is giving him in 2024. He's shown tremendous maturity with his playmaking, rebounding and defense to compensate for his lack of scoring and inefficient shooting.

Joe Mazzulla lauds Jayson Tatum's adaptability

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla was all praise for superstar Jayson Tatum's adaptability this season after Sunday's Game 2 win. Tatum has found ways to impact the game in a multitude of ways. Mazzulla took note of Tatum's growth, saying:

"Where he's grown the last two years is what the defense is giving him and learn to impact the game in many different ways. Because of the type of team that we've had, especially this year, he's seen a bunch of different coverages."

The Celtics defense has been successful against the Mavericks because of Tatum's versatility. His ability to guard the centers has taken away the Mavericks' pick-and-roll offense, which they heavily rely on. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have struggled to score on Tatum, limiting their schemes with the centers as that switches the Celtics forward onto them.

Meanwhile, Jayson Tatum's gravity offensively has opened the scoring opportunities for the rest of the Celtics. Four players are averaging at least 16.0 points apart from Tatum in the opening two games.

He's done a solid job of playing out of double teams and aggressive coverages to ensure his shooting woes don't hinder Boston as much.

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Edited by Arhaan Raje
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