A Detailed Look at Jayson Tatum's Career Night in Brooklyn
The Boston Celtics didn’t leave Brooklyn with a win Monday night, but they did get a career-high scoring effort out of their 20-year-old, sophomore wing.
Despite his team’s 109-102 loss to the Nets, Jayson Tatum was the best all-around player on the court at Barclays Center. There, he erupted for 34 points on 12-of-19 shooting, while also tallying five rebounds, three assists and three blocks during 36 minutes of turnover-free basketball.
It marked the first time in his young career that Tatum topped 30 points in a game, having previously come two points shy of the mark during Game 1 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Much like in those Playoffs, he was relied upon Monday to take on a heavy scoring burden due to the absence of Kyrie Irving, who was suffering from a right quad contusion.
Tatum also took on Irving’s role as the team’s go-to guy in crunch time, as he scored 15 points during the final frame to nearly lead the C’s to a 27-point comeback.
This was the most dominant version of Tatum that we have ever seen, as he scored in a variety of ways, facilitated the offense at times and impacted the defensive end with his length and versatility.
Tatum’s first bucket of the game came less than two minutes into the opening frame, and in dazzling fashion. Here, he receives a pass from Al Horford at the top of the arc, where he pump-fakes Treveon Graham out of his sneakers, before driving and splitting the defense for a layup high off the glass.
Two and a half minutes later, Tatum hit a wide-open 3-pointer off of another dish from Horford, though that was the last field goal he’d score until the C’s final possession of the first half.
With 11 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Tatum corrals a rebound and dribbles slowly up the right side of the court. Once he gets beyond the Nets’ logo, he explodes past a perimeter pick set by Robert Williams, then weaves his way around Jarrett Allen in the paint for a left-handed layup with 1.7 seconds remaining.
That bucket pulled the Celtics within one point of the Nets entering halftime, before things went downhill for them in the third quarter. Tatum, however, was just getting warmed up.
In the third quarter, Tatum knocked down four field goals, which was one more than he made during the entire first half.
His first bucket out of the break is a display of power, as he battles through contact in the low post against Rodions Kurucs and banks in a layup.
Then, Tatum began to show off his soft touch. Here, he spins around Kurucs and tosses a high floater over the outstretched arm of Allen.
That soft touch comes into play again a few minutes later, this time with a high bank shot off the glass that Tatum shovels over Allen’s fingertips.
He then closes out the third quarter in similar fashion as he did the second, by bursting past a perimeter screen set on Carroll, before finishing over Allen with a speedy layup.
The fourth quarter was by far Tatum’s best frame of the game. During just eight minutes, he managed to score 15 points on a 5-for-7 clip from the field and a perfect 3-for-3 clip from the free-throw line.
The fourth quarter is also when Tatum hit two of his three triples on the night, including this tough, corner trey over a strong close-out by Joe Harris.
Later in the frame, Tatum delivers his most impressive move of the game on this crossover, step-back jumper that puts Carroll on skates. It was on this bucket that Tatum hit the 30-point mark.
When he wasn’t crossing up opponents or hitting from long range, Tatum was driving to the rim at will. He shot 5-of-6 from within the restricted area, and his constant driving also helped him to earn a career-high-tying 11 trips to the free-throw line, where he would knock down 7 shots.
Here’s his final rim-run of the night, as weaves past a screen and crosses up Carroll once again, before barreling to the basket for an explosive finish.
Despite the career-high effort, Tatum was more focused on his team's loss than on his individual prowess.
“I’ll score plenty of 30-point games in my career,” he confidently told reporters after the game. “So, I’m not worried about that.”
Still, it was a promising performance for the rising star no matter the result. And like he said, there should be many more 30-point games that lie ahead in his bright future.