Jayson Tatum played a huge role in the Boston Celtics' stunning Game 1 win over the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals. The superstar was plus-16 in his 41 minutes on the floor and dished out a career-high 13 assists while playing the typically elite defense we've come to expect from this Celtics team. But Tatum, for all the good things he did in Game 1, couldn't score worth a lick against the Warriors defense.
It was not the first time this playoffs we've seen Tatum put up a stinker in the shooting column. As good as the 24-year-old forward has become, he still has the occasional night where he can't hit a shot to save his life; he managed to hit three shots on 17 attempts against Golden State, going only 1-of-6 from deep. Tatum has now shot less than 30 percent from the field on three separate occasions this postseason. The difference against the Warriors was that the Celtics won anyway. Which is great news for Boston because Tatum comes back with a vengeance after a game like that.
His first truly bad playoff game came against Milwaukee in Game 3. He shot 4-of-19 from the floor and missed all six of his three point attempts while only hitting two free throws. Boston lost by two. Tatum then responded in Game 4 with a 30-point effort in which he made 13 of his 24 shot attempts. It propelled his team to an eight-point win to tie up the series.
The second came against Miami, also in Game 3, during Eastern Conference Finals. He went 3-of-14 and 1-of-7 from three-point land for a total of 10 points. The Celtics lost yet again. Tatum turned around in Game 4 and had arguably his most efficient game of the postseason, scoring 31 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor while hitting 14 of 16 free throw attempts. The Celtics won, again.
Both of those rebound games came in crucial moments to even each respective series. The circumstances are a bit different this time around. The Celtics can feel like they're playing with house money in Game 2 after stealing Golden State's home court advantage. Every win is crucial and all that but going back to Boston with the Finals tied at one apiece is the realistic best-case scenario against a Warriors team that traditionally protects its home court as well as anybody in the league.
Still, the Celtics know what's at stake. If they can take down the Warriors again they'll be in tremendous shape to take home a title. The way Tatum has played after a bad shooting night so far this postseason suggests he's going to give them a great chance to do just that, and there's no reason to think he won't go off. It's not like Golden State didn't let him get a shot off in Game 1. They threw a lot of doubles at him but he missed a handful of shots that he'd make on a regular night.
The Warriors will adjust on Sunday night. They won't let Tatum pick apart their defense as easily as he did in the opening game. It will likely mean he'll have a greater opportunity to make an impact as a scorer. He's in for a big night if the past is indicative of how Game 2 will go.