A Look Back at Jayson Tatum's Award-Winning Week
Jayson Tatum turned in one of the best weeks of his NBA career last week. For that, he has earned Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Jan. 4-10, the NBA announced Monday.
During Boston’s 3-0 stretch from Jan. 4 through Jan. 8, Tatum averaged 33.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, while shooting 52.2 percent from the field, 52.0 percent from 3-point range, and a perfect 100 percent from the free-throw line where he sank all 16 of his attempts.
This marks the second Player of the Week recognition for Tatum in his career, after also getting the nod during the second week of February 2020.
Now, let’s take a look back at the three performances that made this past week so special for the 22-year-old wing.
1/4 at Toronto
Tatum started the week off with a bang, turning in his best performance of 2021 against the Toronto Raptors.
Just one day after dishing out a career high 12 assists in Detroit, Tatum switched gears and churned out a season-best 40-point effort In Tampa to help guide Boston to a 126-114 win.
JT shot an impressive 11-of-19 from the field and 5-of-8 from 3-point range. But his most encouraging scoring stat came from the free-throw line, where he shot a perfect 13-of-13 after averaging less than three such attempts through his first seven games.
Tatum also logged six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and only one turnover during 32 minutes of action. In the process, he became the first Celtics player to log 40-plus points, 13-plus free throws and six-plus rebounds in a game since Paul Pierce on Feb. 15 2006.
Tatum accomplished all of that while going toe-to-toe with Second Team All-NBA wing Pascal Siakam, who fell well shy of Tatum’s effort with a 22-point, six-rebound, three-assist performance of his own.
1/6 at Miami
Two nights after his performance in Tampa, Tatum was at it again in Miami, this time with his eyes set on revenge. During a rematch of the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals, Tatum poured in a game-high 27 points while shooting 10-of-21 from the field, including his second straight 5-of-8 effort from 3-point range. He also logged five rebounds, four assists and just two turnovers during 38 minutes of action, while leading the C’s to a thrilling, 107-105 win.
Even more inspiring than his efforts on the court was the statement Tatum gave following the game off the court. He and his teammates had been playing with heavy hearts due to that day’s attack on the Capitol, and so afterward, he and Jaylen Brown held a joint media session so that they could express their emotions to the world. Their conversation centered around the lack of police force used to mitigate the attack compared to the violent force used to dissipate various Black Lives Matter protests throughout 2020.
Brown referred to it as “two split, different Americas,” a concept upon which Tatum expounded.
“I just feel like the same energy should be kept when we see our people peacefully protesting about things like, we see our people getting murdered on TV and live and in videos,” Tatum said. “And they’re protesting in the Capitol – or rioting in the Capitol – for losing an election. It’s two different things.”
The idea of not playing that night in light of the attack was taken into consideration, but Tatum said that ultimately, “I think that the statement of us talking about it, us going on the court on national TV could shed more light than us not playing.”
And he followed through by delivering both on the court and off the court.
1/8 vs. Washington
Tatum finished off his week with one of his most anticipated battles of the season: a matchup against childhood friend and fellow All-Star Bradley Beal.
The St. Louis natives started off the game trading shot-for-shot, concluding the first quarter with identical tallies of 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Beal, the NBA’s leading scorer, continued to take off from there, finishing with a game-high 41 points on 16-of-29 shooting from the field. Tatum, meanwhile, ended up with a Celtics-high 32 points on 12-of-27 shooting. It was Tatum who got the last laugh in the matchup, as his team ran away with a 116-107 victory.
With the addition of his five rebounds to the effort, it marked Tatum’s third straight game with at least 25 points and five boards, matching the longest such streak of his four-year NBA career. It also capped off one of the best weeks of his career, leading to his much-deserved Player of the Week recognition.