C's Shock the World with Historic Comeback Behind Tatum's 60
Friday night will forever be known as the Miracle on Causeway.
Or maybe it will be known as The Jayson Tatum Game.
Whichever storyline one chooses to take with them from Friday night, it will be a memorable one for many, many years to come.
Behind Tatum’s franchise record-tying 60 points, the Boston Celtics staged a miraculous comeback to capture a 143-140 overtime victory over the visiting San Antonio Spurs. Boston trailed by as many as 32 points during the first half and by 29 points at halftime, marking the second-largest halftime deficit overcome in NBA history, per ESPN Stats & Info. Additionally, NBA teams had lost 1,014 consecutive games after trailing by 32 or more points, per the Associated Press, before the Celtics put hit the breaks on that streak.
This was a victory that defied all odds and was historic in nature – quite literally.
“The 30-plus point deficit we overcame, never even like seen that in person or watched it,” said rookie Aaron Nesmith, who played a critical role in the comeback by scoring 16 points off the bench. “To be a part of it is just incredible.”
Jaylen Brown added of his team’s historic comeback, “I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a 30-point comeback, and it was perfect timing.”
It sure was, and it all took place over the final 19 minutes of regulation plus overtime as Tatum’s hot hands began to throw fireballs into the basket.
Beginning at the 6:14 mark of the third quarter, with Boston trailing by 26, Tatum went on a run that featured 34 points over the final 23 minutes and 14 seconds of regulation and overtime. To put that into perspective, San Antonio’s entire team scored a total of 47 points over that same lengthy span.
Tatum’s run included five points during the third quarter, 21 during the fourth quarter, and another 10 during the overtime session.
This scoring surge pushed Tatum to the top of Boston’s single-game scoring list with Larry Bird. Bird also scored a career-high 60 points on March 12, 1985 against the Atlanta Hawks.
Friday’s performance by Tatum isn’t the first one that placed him in the same break as Bird, either. Just three weeks ago, Tatum tallied 53 points during an overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, which placed him in the same conversation as Celtics greats like Bird and Kevin McHale with regard to single-game scoring efforts. After that game, he said being mentioned alongside those all-time greats was “an honor.”
Tatum is no longer going to be just mentioned in the same breath at those greats. He is now cemented as one of those greats, as he sits atop the individual scoring list with none other than Larry Legend himself. Tatum gave a laugh of disbelief after that fact was recited to him, before he tried to cobble together words for a reaction.
“That is… it’s hard to – I don’t know,” he said during his postgame press conference. “Obviously anytime you’re mentioned with a top-10 player of all time in any stat, obviously that is a good thing. It’s something I never I think would have imagined at this age.”
The 23-year-old then concluded by stating what was very obvious to all who were listening: “It’s hard to put into words, but it’s just a surreal feeling.”
Likewise, it was a surreal feeling for his teammates to watch Tatum’s performance unfold, but they wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Tatum’s scoring surged Boston back into the game beginning in the third quarter, and the C’s finally tied the game with 5:36 remaining in regulation. At that point, Tatum had already scored 13 points during the frame, but he had another eight more to score to send the game to overtime.
Tatum’s dominance carried right over to the extra session, as he scored 10 of Boston’s 15 points while putting constant pressure on San Antonio’s defense. He made and attempted six free throws during the extra frame, and he dished the hockey-assist that led to Brown’s game-changing 3-pointer to help seal Boston’s extraordinary victory.
Take either of Friday night’s incredible circumstances on their own and you’d have one incredible night to remember.
From a team perspective, these Celtics became the first group in franchise history to overcome a halftime deficit of 29 or more points, and they became the first team in 1,015 tries to log a win after trailing by at least 32 points.
From an individual perspective, Tatum etched his name into the top of the Celtics history books with a sensational 60-point performance that lands him right next to one of the game’s all-time greats in Bird.
Add those two storylines together, and you’ve got a situation that was summed up perfectly by Tatum himself: “It was a special night,” he said
It sure was, and it’s one which will live on in Celtics history for many years to come.