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The Read & React: Tatum rising

Jayson Tatum is the league’s best three point shooter and one of its most efficient scorers. And he’s just scratching the surfance

NBA: Boston Celtics at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Tim MacLean: Jayson Tatum cannot be 19.

Seeing him work off the bounce tonight reminded me more of a five-year veteran than a rookie just over 30 games into his career.

Tatum worked well with the ball in his hands both in the pick and roll and in isolation. His ability to knock down 3s and midrange jumpers coming off screens with the dribble is something that can often take years for guys to work into their game, yet there he was tonight doing exactly that. He also made a couple of nice passes as the ball handler in the pick and roll.

His confidence is at an unreal level for a kid his age. Coming off a stinker of a game against Utah he looked for his own offense without forcing the issue against the Grizz.

I can’t wait to watch Tatum develop in the coming years.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Keith Smith: It was a case of the old and the new tonight.

The old: The Celtics starters defended well from the tip and created a huge lead.

The new: The defense struggled long stretches, especially with reserves in the game and gave up the entirety of that huge lead.

The old: Al Horford had a dominating stretch late in the 4th quarter. He scored back-to-back buckets, then assisted Terry Rozier for a three and then found a cutting Rozier. The Celtics are at their best when Horford brings it at a high level.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The new: Jayson Tatum scored 19 points on 13 shots. He also grabbed nine rebounds (five offensive), snagged two steals and blocked two shots. He shot over 50% overall and made both of his three-pointers. And finished a game-best +21. And he broke out several new moves today, as he hit a three on a pull-up off a screen, nailed a step back out of an iso, and broke several defenders down off the bounce to get to the rim. He missed a few tough ones inside, but once those come, Tatum will be a 20 point per game scorer.

Bill Sy: Today’s Read & React reads like a Jayson Tatum hype train because, well, it should. He’s impressed all season with his efficient scoring playing off of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, but over the last few games and particularly last night, it was his play as a primary scorer that showed just what the 19-year-old(!) can do and will do as he develops.

You can find his highlights here on his seven makes, but he was maybe equally impressive on his six misses against the Grizzlies:

Most of Tatum’s offense has been generated on spot ups and attacking close outs, but we’re now seeing what he can do as an isolation scorer—his calling card coming out of Duke—and as a playmaker in pick-and-rolls and driving from the wing. We haven’t really seen his handle or his explosion off the dribble much. Here are Tatum’s Synergy play type stats:

The conventional thinking was that with Gordon Hayward injured, the silver lining would be the accelerated development of the rookie. Tatum hasn’t disappointed. It was a game of runs in Memphis, but in that decisive 4th quarter, Tatum played over ten minutes and it was a lineup of Larkin-Rozier-Tatum-Horford-Theis that turned a 2-point deficit into a 14-point lead in the first five minutes of the final frame. Horford was the alpha of that unit, but Tatum was everywhere on both sides of the ball.

Bobby Manning: Celts will stagger lineups. Shane Larkin and the bench unit posted a -13 in the first half, with Tyreke Evans and Memphis’ slashing guards switching and attacking Larkin and Terry Rozier. In the fourth that lineup took the court again, this time with both Al Horford and Jayson Tatum staggered in with the bench unit.

They propelled a 16-0 run, starting with Larkin’s drive and kick to Horford and swing to Rozier for a three. Then in what may have been the play of the night, Horford faced up his defender and Rozier scorched to the net on a cut. Horford hit him in stride and the C’s were on their way to a win.

As Larkin let us know, he and the bench unit posted a +13 second half. Stevens said after the game staggering will be the norm with Marcus Morris out of the fold, and tonight it helped solidify the efforts of Rozier and Larkin, who were sharped contributors late. It may put extra pressure on spot starters who have to rotate to the second unit on certain nights, but this game showed it can flow back into the starting lineup with Tatum’s spectacular transition finishes later in the quarter that sealed the game.