NBA Playoff Spotlight: Will Tatum Step Up When His Team Needs Him Most?

Posted on May 21, 2023

To the surprise of virtually everyone, the Celtics are down 2-0 in their best-of-seven series against the Heat. The Celtics were favored by nearly double digits in both Games 1 and 2 at TD Garden, but couldn’t come away with a win in either game. In both games, 4th quarter collapses doomed any chance the Celtics had. In order for them to make a comeback in this series, they need to play cleaner basketball. The Celtics have turned the ball over more in this series so far. They also need to hit more three-pointers. The Heat shot better from beyond the arc in both games so far this series. In two games decided by a total of 13 points, turning the ball over more and shooting worse from 3 can be all the difference.

Of course, while all of this is true, and the Celtics as a team can definitely play better, it really comes down to the two superstars in this series. Jimmy Butler is simply outplaying Jayson Tatum in this series. Tatum has more turnovers, less blocks, and less steals in this series than Butler does. However, it goes beyond the stats. Butler has stepped up with huge shots in the 4th quarter of both games, while Tatum didn’t have a shot made in the 4th quarter in Game 2. He only scored because of free throws he made. Unfortunately, if the Celtics fall short as big favorites in this series, it’ll all fall on Tatum’s shoulders. This is what it means to be a superstar, or the number 1 option on your team. If you were to ask people whether or not the Celtics CAN come back in this series, most would probably say it’s doable. However, they would also likely add that they’re unsure whether or not Tatum has the spine to be able to do it.

Ultimately, whether or not the Celtics have any chance to win this series rests with Tatum. A win tonight, and they’ll be right back in this thing. Another loss, and the Celtics will be on the brink.

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