1. We’ve never done this before, but this entire set of Takeaways is going to involve around Jayson Tatum. It’s not that other Boston Celtics didn’t contribute to the win, but Sunday afternoon was Tatum Time and we’re going to roll with it.
Tatum Time got started really early. Tatum said that before the game Grant Williams told him that he was closing in on Williams’ “record” of consecutive missed three-pointers. Tatum said, “I told him that’s a record he could keep” and then he ended that streak just over a minute into the game:
But Tatum didn’t get jumper happy. On the next trip, Tatum worked off a Robert Williams screen and got his shoulder into Daniel Gafford to get a layup:
A few plays later, it was a similar result. This time Tatum takes the baseline against the big man and powers up before Gafford could impact the shot:
2. Yes, Tatum scored 51 points and that will get most of the attention. But he played a terrific all-around game. He also grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out seven assists. The passing started early, as he threw a lob to Robert Williams to open the scoring. Tatum pushes in transition and see Williams with only guards back at the rim. An on-time pass gets Boston on the board:
Tatum doesn’t get the assist here, but look at the left-handed bullet he throws across the court to help open up the play:
This is more good attacking play from Tatum. No settling for the jumper here. He gets into the paint for the drive-and-kick pass to Grant Williams in his money spot:
This lob comes off a set play. Tatum knows where he’s going as soon as he starts his move to the middle of the floor and it’s a perfect pass for the alley-oop finish:
Those are just a few examples, but Tatum was in his passing bag all game long, as well as his scoring bag.
3. After playing the entire first quarter, Tatum got a few minutes of rest to open the second quarter. When he came back in, he picked right up where he left off. The camera angle here gives a cool view of this play. Tatum splits the trap before it can get there. Then, he sees no big in the paint, so it’s off to the rim:
How about a bailout bucket after a busted play? We could nitpick about no one rotating back to pick up Bradley Beal on the runout, but we’re moving on:
Miss a shot? Don’t drop your head. Just keep playing. That serves Tatum well here as he collects the offensive rebound for the layup:
4. When you’re rolling like Tatum was, you get the final shot to close the half. Tatum dribbles into this three off a screen and drains it for 31 points heading into the break:
5. The second half started with more of the same:
(Don’t tell anyone, but we’re really stealing this takeaway to talk about how good Marcus Smart was in his return. 11 points, four rebounds, six assists and four steals in 31 minutes for Smart. He set the tone early with some excellent defense.
Smart added postgame that he told Jayson Tatum “Keep shooting. I’m gonna find you. Just keep shooting.”
That’s leadership from your point guard.)
6. The classic step-back hasn’t been going down for Tatum this year. It was great to see it make a return. Hopefully it’s not a cameo or limited-engagement appearance:
7. Tatum shot 9-of-14 from behind the arc, but he never settled for just taking jumpers. Here’s another time when he split the trap, and with the big up the floor, Tatum went right to the rack for the loud finish:
8. There’s not anything overly remarkable about this play from Tatum. He drills a pullup triple off the bounce, like he’s done a million times. But when all your teammates can do is put their hands on their heads, smile and laugh, you know you’re cooking:
9. Ime Udoka said postgame that he didn’t put Jayson Tatum back in just so he could get to 50 points. Udoka said, “Not at all. Honestly. We were getting a bit ISO heavy. So, I got him back in there to help finish the game.” Fibbing or not, Tatum got his 50-piece on this drive to the bucket:
10. Boston never trailed in their nearly 30-point drubbing of the Washington Wizards. Beyond Jayson Tatum going off, Marcus Smart played well, as did Grant Williams off the bench.
Ime Udoka tweaked his rotation and went with just three bigs, with Robert Williams, Al Horford and Grant Williams handling all the non-blowout minutes. Outside of a period where Jaylen Brown was in foul trouble, Udoka avoided pairing Smart with Dennis Schroder in the backcourt. Signs of permanent rotation changes to come?
Mostly, this was not just a win the Celtics needed, but the kind of win they needed. They went on the road and stomped a team that was ahead of them in the standings. And it was really the kind of game Jayson Tatum needed. We’ve seen him take a big performance weeks before the All-Star break and use it to launch into supernova status before.
If the Celtics are to keep climbing in the Eastern Conference standings, they’ll need more games like this. From the team as a whole and from Jayson Tatum.