Tatum Laughs Off Struggles, Says He's Focused On Sunday

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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BOSTON – Jayson Tatum isn’t getting too caught up in Friday’s 2-for-18 shooting performance against Milwaukee. In fact, he’s laughing it off – literally.

After being asked Saturday what he saw from Friday’s film, Tatum chuckled and said, “A lot of missed shots.”

For a 22-year-old, he sure is cool, calm and collected. Tatum is not in the least bit concerned with his single an off night, and neither is his coach.

“Some nights are just not your night,” Brad Stevens said following Saturday’s practice. “He’s an unreal basketball player. That doesn’t mean that every day the ball will go in at 60 percent.”

Whether it does or doesn’t matters little to Tatum. He commits to moving on, learning from his mistakes, and performing at a high level the next time he takes the floor.

“Can’t do nothing about it now,” he said of Friday’s performance. “You’ve got to focus on the next game. Whether you play good or bad, I think that’s always how I approach it.”

The next game will arrive at 3:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon, when the Celtics take on the Portland Trail Blazers. Boston’s emerging superstar is looking forward to redeeming himself in short order.

“It’s just all about watching film. Watch about what I could have done better yesterday and implement into the next game,” said Tatum. “That’s what I’m going to try to do tomorrow. We play every other day, so you always have a chance to bounce back and forget about the last game.”

The Celtics are confident that he’ll do so, and they even remained confident in him in the midst of his struggles Friday night. As Stevens pointed out, Boston purposefully got the ball into Tatum’s hands many times during the final five minutes of the game because they believed he could deliver, regardless of what happened during the first 43 minutes of the contest.

“He just has a special make-up about him,” Stevens commented. “On a night where he’s struggling, he can make a huge play. On a night when he’s rolling, he can make a huge play. Because he doesn’t get too high or too low. He’s special, and that’s why I lose no sleep over nights like last night.”

It would be easy to do so, seeing as Tatum just didn’t look like his normal self during his first game inside the NBA bubble. However, there is exceedingly more evidence that he’ll bounce back in a big way than there is of the notion that he’ll continue to struggle.

Remember, Tatum wasn’t just good for the final three months of the pre-hiatus season. He was great.

Tatum ranked seventh in the league in scoring with an average of 28.2 points per game from Jan. 18 through the start of the hiatus in mid-March. From Feb. 1 through the start of the hiatus, he ranked fifth in the league with an average of 29.2 PPG.

Players of Tatum’s caliber don’t stay cold for long. They heat back up in a hurry and make future opponents pay while looking like the stars that they are.

Tatum has good reason to laugh Friday’s performance off. All the evidence in the world suggests that he’ll get back to playing dominant basketball sooner rather than later.