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Breaking down Jayson Tatum’s spectacular start to the season

With wins against Eastern Conference contenders and a hungry, up-and-coming team, Tatum has jumped out as an MVP candidate.

Boston Celtics v. Orlando Magic
Jayson Tatum against the Magic
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

After the Celtics’ third straight hard-fought victory, Jayson Tatum caught up with NBC Boston’s Abby Chin to break down the team’s performance. Whether it was not applying enough pressure or letting the opposing team get too comfortable, Tatum said the Celtics have to be way better. His 40-point spot was an afterthought.

Moreover, in the postgame press conference, Tatum echoed his comments again. After being asked about the MVP conversation, Tatum didn’t hesitate.

“All I’m concerned about is getting back to the championship and getting over that hump,” Tatum exclaimed, repeating something he’s said throughout the summer.

It’s important that Tatum repeated it during the offseason, but his words didn’t seem to matter. Now, it’s his game that’s doing the talking. Tatum, sitting in front of the Boston media, was all business. For the team, it’s all business, too, after starting off the season by taking down Eastern Conference heavyweights in the 76ers and Heat. To move to 3-0 on Saturday night, the Celtics tamed the hungry, up-and-coming Magic, and won 126-120. Tatum said he has been focused early in this regular season.

“I’m happy to just be back playing basketball after the summer time,” Tatum said. “All I could think about was getting ready, playing and starting a new chapter. I’ve said it a million times: it was a long, miserable summer. I just want to get back out here and compete. I don’t care how many points I score, I just want to get back to that point.”

Tatum’s focus has materialized in a few brilliant numbers. Through three games, Tatum has shot 58.7 percent from the field while averaging a league-best 34.7 points per game.

On the floor, he’s grown fangs and a killer instinct to match. After the Magic made it 118-113 with a 1:34 remaining, Tatum stopped the bleeding. Though Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon were key contributors, Tatum was the reason for victory. He scored 10 points in the final quarter.

As Tatum had the ball with 1:34 left, he sized up Orlando’s Terrence Ross. It took the superstar a few in-between crossovers to get to his spot. Tatum then side-stepped and drained the 3-pointer to put the Magic away.

As masterful as his 40-point performance was, Tatum’s defense did more to highlight his early season mentality. On a back-to-back, he could’ve coasted, but demanded to guard the #1 pick, Paolo Banchero, after the Celtics started struggling.

Now, players want Tatum, just as he wanted Banchero. It’s the superstar treatment. And, considering Tatum’s stellar start to the season and newfound mentality, expect a victorious Tatum most of the time.

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