Jayson Tatum displays his greatness once again en route to Game 3 win

On the night of Joel Embiid's MVP trophy ceremony, the Boston Celtics' star Jayson Tatum came out with a chip on his shoulder (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
On the night of Joel Embiid's MVP trophy ceremony, the Boston Celtics' star Jayson Tatum came out with a chip on his shoulder (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

On the night of Joel Embiid’s MVP trophy ceremony, the Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum came out with a chip on his shoulder

In the 34-point blowout triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers, the Boston Celtics did not need Jayson Tatum. Their championship depth was on full display as six different Celtics finished in double figures to propel the green and white to a win on a night where Tatum simply did not have his best. What makes Boston’s No. 0 so special is that he never lets offensive nights like that effect him internally.

Malcolm Brogdon kept it real post-game when speaking about Tatum’s ability to stay locked in coming off a seven-point scoring effort:

"“He’s a top 5 player in the world and he showed that tonight. He finished the game and he played a terrific game all around. He finished a tough game on the road in a hostile environment for us. That’s what superstars do.”"

Coming off his fourth-worst offensive night in his career in the postseason, the former Duke star was clearly out to prove something on the night his rival lifted the most prestigious individual honor the league has to offer. His confidence and fearlessness on the road with the ball in his hands made his display so remarkable.

Doc Rivers was asked to get scoring on once he put Tobias Harris on Tatum with under two minutes left in the ball game. Everyone else on the floor and in the area just sat back and watched as the 2022/23 All-Star Game MVP closed it out with his patented step-back 3-pointer right in front of the opposition’s bench. On both of his crucial shots down the stretch, Philadelphia sent no help, leaving Harris on an island against one of the world’s best one-on-one scorers in the game today. These are the moments when a superstar takes a step toward greatness. Away from home. Coming off a poor shooting display. Against the league MVP in the playoffs. The 25-year-old overcame all of that to carve out a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4 on Sunday afternoon.

It was the 12th time in his career that he collected double-digit points in the final quarter of a playoff game, and the second time this postseason. Of the players that have been on the floor for more than 10 minutes of the closing quarter so far in the playoffs, Tatum is among just four others including Devin Booker and De’Aaron Fox that have a scoring output greater than 6.5 in those minutes.

This was not the first example of the defending Eastern Conference Finals MVP demonstrating his mental toughness in the playoff. In the six playoff games after a single-digit scoring outing in his career so far, Tatum has averaged 23 points.

In 2021 in the first round against the infamous Brooklyn Nets, Tatum shot 3-12 in a blowout loss in Game 2, putting his ball club in a two-game hole early. The four-time All-Star was a -28 in his 21 minutes on the floor that night. Three days later on May 28, Tatum lit up the parquet floor. The C’s No. 0 flipped the script, going from nine points to a playoff career-high 50 on 53% shooting to go along with six rebounds, seven assists, and just one turnover. While Boston lost that series, it was clear the Boston superstar was ascending up the list of the league’s top talents.

In Game 3 against the Philadelphia 76ers, Jayson Tatum demonstrated his short memory, a skill of his that often goes unnoticed

His impact was felt on both ends of the floor, especially down the stretch when the 76ers were seeking their first lead since the 8:35 mark of the second quarter. It started on the Boston Celtics’ first offensive possession. Tatum came off a Marcus Smart screen, collected a pass from Jaylen Brown, and knocked down a tough two over Tobias Harris.

It was evident right from the jump that Mazzulla wanted to get his All-NBA player going. Tatum’s belief in his shot and play-making ability continued throughout the rest of Game 3, limiting his turnovers to just one in the final 24 minutes of the ball game. There will be nights when Boston’s No. 0 cannot buy a bucket, it is in games like Game 3 that remind the NBA world that there is nothing to worry about.

Since coming into the NBA in 2018, the St. Louis native has never shied away from the spotlight, and one poor shooting performance on a Wednesday at the TD Garden is not going to change that. With Tatum acting as the closer accompanied by the standout depth that this team possesses, the 76ers are going to need to pull off a magic trick in order to advance past the Boston Celtics into the franchises’ first Eastern Conference Finals since 2001.