It was a smooth, crisp win at home against a pesky Orlando Magic team, a team that could be a possible playoff opponent down the line for the Celtics. The Magic stood strong for a whole half, but then the Celtics maintained a consistent lead led by their strong defense creating opportunities for their offense.
This offense was once again led by Jayson Tatum, the All-Star who is becoming a superstar in front of our very eyes. Tatum filled up the box score, really showing off his abilities to take over the offense by creating for himself when the Celtics needed a bucket the most. He finished the game with 33 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. It was one heck of a game that continued one of his best scoring streaks of his career. This was his seventh consecutive game scoring 20 points. Through this stretch, Tatum is averaging 26 points per game, shooting an impressive 48.1% from the field and 45.3% from three.
The major improvement in Tatum’s is his ability to score on his own. This isolation scoring has saved the Celtics in stretches when they needed a bucket in a crucial situation. With Kemba Walker out, it has opened up the opportunity for Tatum to take on a larger scoring responsibility.
Often, Tatum has it at the top of the key and knows how to find a good shot for himself. The patented move he has gotten down is his go-to side step which creates space for an uncontested shot. It was used in a big spot in the Magic game when the Celtics let them cut the lead to only three points.
Both of these clips were a variation of the side-step or step-back move he has perfected and more importantly, the confident he has in it right now. Celtics needed a bucket, and it was back-to-back calls clearing everyone out for Tatum to work in isolation. Brad Stevens has been going to him more and more, letting the young All-Star work his game.
Another highlight from Tatum’s game against the Magic was how he continued to attack the bucket and finish around the rim with ease. He has really taken this skill to the next level over the past month or two. Five of his eleven made baskets were layups around the rim. Couple that with Tatum having seven free throw attempts, he had an excellent night driving on the Magic defense.
It has been said multiple times before, but cannot be stressed enough: the driving ability from Tatum opens up his game to have defenders guessing each possession. They either have to sit back and await him driving which then, of course, opens up Tatum to shoot the three ball. This same thought process applies if the defender tries to close out and stop a three-point attempt. It is very simple basketball, but Tatum is using this concept perfectly to continue to score like an All-Star.
But it was not just his thirty-three points. His rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals were impressive, too. It is a crucial ability for Tatum to be able to push and create fast break opportunity that can turn a good defensive possession leading to a missed basket into easy offense at the other end. As we saw against the Magic in the one big highlight dunk of the night, Tatum ripped it away from Nicola Vucevic and started the fast break, ending in a great assist to Jaylen Brown cutting to the basket for the big-time dunk.
Tatum continues to flash his superstar potential. The Celtics needed him around the seven minute mark of the fourth quarter, and he came through with two major baskets back-to-back. The lead was then safe again, and the Celtics rode it out to a victory. Tatum continues to dazzle in this regard, and the Celtics will rely on him more and more.