With one game left before the All-Star Game, the Celtics were playing the Clippers at home. Jayson Tatum was coming off of a poor outing against the Rockets when he only scored 15 points on 5/15 from the field. Jayson Tatum had a performance of the ages by locking up Kawhi on defense and scoring 39 points on the offensive end.
After the All-Star game, it comes out that Kemba has a knee injury and hasn’t played in a game since then. Jayson has played at a top 10 player level with Kemba Walker out. In the first game without Kemba, Jayson had an average game in a ten-point win over Minnesota. Jayson had 28 points and 11 rebounds, which was expected out of him.
But, his performance against LeBron and the Lakers put him on notice. If one were watching the game with no prior knowledge to the players in the game, everyone would have pointed at him and said, “he’s the best player on the court.” I think people forget, but he only had one point from a free throw in the first quarter as they trailed nine entering the second quarter. From there on, it was Jayson’s game. In the second quarter alone, he went 7/10 from the field and scored 18 points. That was more points he scored than in fifteen games throughout the season. In the third quarter, he had another 18 point quarter as he went 8/9 from the free throw line. During the stretch, I believed he was the best player on the court, which included LeBron, the second best player ever, and Anthony Davis, the best big forward in the NBA. In the fourth quarter, he required a double team, and that led to 4 points from him and 10 points from Jaylen Brown. If Kemba Walker, I would say the Lakers win the game. But, he was not, and they lost by two after a terrible ending where the refs made their presence known and blew the game.
On Tuesday, the Celtics faced the Blazers in Portland. It was not nationally broadcasted, so I was watching the Raptors-Bucks and Lakers-Pelicans games instead of this one (It’s time to buy League Pass). But, based on the stats from the game, he had one hell of a night: 36 points on 8/12 from behind the arc.
I realized while watching last night’s game: I wanted to see Tatum and Mitchell become a rivalry since their rookie seasons. They both had tremendous rookie seasons along with great games last night. Tatum scored 33 points with 11 rebounds (including his career high with 25 points in the first half), and Mitchell scored 37 with zero help from his teammates. That led to an 11-point win for the Celtics to end their four-game road stretch.
The Last Words
The next Saturday the Celtics will be playing the Rockets on ABC. That will bring the stretch to a full circle as his last bad game was in Houston as they lost by 11. I think it is fair to say that the Celtics is Jayson’s team now, and it is going to be very interesting to see where he takes them.