Seemingly chasing history all season for the Boston Celtics, Jayson Tatum has solidified himself among legendary company with his Game 7 performance.
In their Game 7 victory in the Eastern Conference semifinals over the Toronto Raptors, the Boston Celtics excised many demons. The first was surpassing the second round again after missing the conference finals in 2019 following two straight trips in the years prior.
After seemingly building towards something great from 2016-18, the 2019 postseason season left a bad taste in the mouths of Cs fans everywhere. The 2019-20 season was a like a post-meal breath mint, and thus far the 2020 playoffs from the Lake Buena Vista bubble in Walt Disney World’s Wide World of Sports complex has been an all-expenses-paid trip to flavortown.
In addition, Jaylen Brown has reclaimed his starting role. And conveniently enough for Brad Stevens, he hasn’t had to choose between Brown and Marcus Smart. Smart has admirably stepped into the starting spot and has given the Boston Celtics an intriguing question this offseason pertaining to whether or not they should shop Gordon Hayward since things appear to be fine without him.
Finally, Jayson Tatum has ascended from playoff dud to playoff hero. After averaging just 15 points, six rebounds and two assists in 2019, he has elevated those totals to 25 points, ten rebounds and four assists per game. No longer just a scorer by trade, Tatum is rounding into a complete and versatile wing. In fact, his stat line is one you could easily confuse with Kawhi Leonard’s playoff totals.
Like Leonard, Tatum is accumulating his Game 7 moments–coincidentally enough against the team the “Klaw” just won a championship with last year in Toronto. With a final line of 29/12/7, Tatum joined rarified air in Game 7 lore:
At 22 years and 192 days old, Jayson Tatum becomes the 2nd youngest player to record 25+ points, 10+ rebounds and 5+ assists in a Game 7.
The youngest is Kobe Bryant (June 4, 2000 at 21 years, 286 days old). pic.twitter.com/hACuEqtEmQ
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) September 12, 2020
And also with that, his postseason resume adds another notch after Friday’s triumph:
Tonight marks Jayson Tatum’s 20th career 20-point playoff game, tying him with Kevin Durant for 4th-most in NBA history before turning 23.
The only players with more 20-point playoff games before turning 23: Kobe Bryant (32), LeBron James (29), and Derrick Rose (22). pic.twitter.com/XZr9r5RNlO
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 12, 2020
It’s not hyperbole saying that we are watching Tatum rise to superstardom in the bubble. A conference championship would put him in the conversation for being a top 10 player in the league…but an NBA title would continue to put his name in conversations with the late great Kobe Bryant.