Jayson Tatum took another big step this year in his development, earning First-Team All-NBA honors and leading the Boston Celtics to their first NBA Finals appearance in over a decade. He's struggled mightily on the biggest stage, though. Tatum is shooting only 34 percent from the floor and a horrific 28 percent on two-point attempts against the swarming Golden State Warriors defense. It isn't the first time we've seen Tatum struggle this postseason, but it is the first time we've seen him struggle for this long.
As good as the Celtics' roster is, they'll be hard-pressed to bring home the hardware if their best scorer can't get it going. First Things First's Kevin Wildes discussed that on Monday morning ahead of a pivotal Game 5 and said that Tatum needs to rise to the moment if he is indeed the superstar Boston fans believe him to be-- much like how Tom Cruise rose to the moment in the new Top Gun movie.
I mean... he's right, I guess. Superstars are the main characters of their team and are relied upon to save the day when things look darkest. The Celtics aren't quite at rock bottom, given the series is tied 2-2, but they did blow a golden opportunity to go up 3-1 after letting the Warriors go on a 21-7 run to end Game 4. The moment is now for Tatum to dominate and take back control of the series with a huge Game 5.
He very well could. Tatum has shot 42 percent from the floor this postseason so he's likely to regress to the mean and get some bunnies to fall that haven't been dropping so far. On the other hand, despite his overall shooting troubles, Tatum has been hitting a whopping 45 percent of his three-point attempts on eight tries per game, which he probably won't keep up.
Tatum hasn't played poorly this series. He's been great setting up his teammates with his passing and defense. But the Celtics are too inconsistent scoring the ball outside of Tatum and Jaylen Brown to survive for much longer if Tatum cannot dominate on offense. It is time for his Tom Cruise moment.