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First to the Floor: Tatum Prevails in the Battle of the MVPs

How has this Tatum vs Luka matchup impacted the MVP conversation?

Dallas Mavericks v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

“Blocked by Tatum!”

Mike Breen’s iconic commentary punctuates Jayson Tatum’s late-game MVP-on-MVP crime, only to be bested moments later.


Jaylen Brown hits a game-sealing three, sending the TD Garden crowd into an absolute frenzy and leaving Boston fans with no choice but to give thanks for “the Jays” this Thanksgiving.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 68 points in the Celtics’ 125-112 victory over the Mavericks, including an undeniable MVP performance from Tatum, who notched 37 points, 13 boards, 5 assists, and 2 blocks, including the aforementioned denial of Luka Doncic.

‘’His ability to answer the moment. His ability to make everyone around him better,’’ Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. ‘’You can count on him to play every night.’’

Jaylen Brown provided the perfect compliment to Tatum’s performance, adding 31 points while getting to the rim with ease and limiting his turnovers; a stat that’s heavily scrutinized by Celtics fans universally.

Luka Doncic had 42 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds for the Mavericks thanks to an absolute avalanche of isolation mid-range jumpers. However, it wasn’t enough for a balanced, cohesive Boston Celtics attack, featuring a bounce-back perfect shooting night from Al Horford, and Marcus Smart’s return to form as the Celtics’ prominent play-maker.

Joe Mazzulla implemented a “playoff-style” defensive game plan, intentionally forcing Luka Doncic into isolation scoring mode, and restricting any opportunities for his teammates. This was a relatively successful strategy for Boston, who led by as many as 27 points in the third quarter before Doncic carried the Mavericks through a late run, tallying 8 assists in the second half and cutting the deficit to single digits.

After wavering early in the fourth quarter thanks to long stretches of “prevent offense”, Tatum and the Celtics struck back in dramatic fashion.

With 2:50 remaining and the deficit reduced to just 10 points, Tatum drove right by the softest of double teams for an emphatic two-hand slam.

The following possession, Donic committed an offensive foul after flailing an over-zealous chicken wing into the gut of a quick-footed Al Horford.

With the Celtics back on offense, Tatum ruthlessly hunted Luka Doncic, drawing the foul and getting to the free-throw line for his 36th and 37th point.

Which brings us right back to that iconic play…

Where does this spicy sequence rank in the all-time pantheon of Tatum and Brown connections? How does this matchup impact the MVP conversation? Tap into the latest episode of First to the Floor to find out.

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