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Tatum on the key to Celtics success: “Defense defense, defense”

The young superstar spoke to the media after a 44-point performance in a win over Charlotte

Boston Celtics v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics extended their win streak to four on Wednesday night, taking down the Charlotte Hornets, 115-101. Jayson Tatum exploded for 44 points, bringing his total over the last two games up to 98. That’s the most of any NBA player so far this season.

Charlotte kept things close through the first three quarters, but Tatum and the C’s took things to a whole new level in the fourth. And they were backed by a sea of green in the crowd at Spectrum Center, with a “Let’s Go Celtics” chant breaking out at one point.

After the game, Ime Udoka was asked about what it was like to have only C’s supporters in the crowd. He said that it was pretty amazing, but also noted that it’s hard not to cheer when someone like Tatum is playing as incredible as he was.

“A lot of Celtic fans in fans in the nation. Travel well. Wherever you go, you see a lot of green in the building. It’s crazy to hear all the chants in here tonight on a road game. But at the same time, when a guy’s doing something special like Jayson is, you’re going to hear those chants from a home or road crowd.”

Tatum led the team in scoring, but the rest of the Celtics put in a great shift, too. Five other players ended up scoring in double figures, and Marcus Smart and Derrick White combined for 17 assists. Udoka emphasized the need for team basketball down the stretch of the season.

“You see it in the numbers with Jayson obviously, but everybody else contributing in their own way. He’s making it easy on them… Can’t rely on one guy, two guys to score all the points. We want to have an unselfish team that plays a good, appealing brand of basketball and I think we’re doing that.”

That being said, Tatum’s performances over the last two games have been nothing short of awe-inspiring. He’s leading the team in scoring, but also getting his teammates involved on a nightly basis.

In his postgame interview, Tatum was asked about the Celtics’ recent run and what it feels like to be having so much success. While it’s nice to blow teams out, he pointed to the competitive aspect of the game as one of his favorite parts.

“That’s when it’s really fun. When the game is close, you’re going back and forth. You come to a timeout and emotions and things like that... And when you win a game like that, especially on the road, that’s basketball.”

And despite putting up back-to-back dominant performances on the offensive side of the ball, Tatum still looked at the team’s defense as the main reason for their success as of late.

“Defense defense, defense. Defense, defense, defense. Held them to 101 tonight. I don’t know what we held other teams to, but I feel like we’ve been guarding pretty well. Obviously, against Brooklyn we gave up 120, but, the best players in the world, those guys are going to make shots. But on a nightly basis, that’s the key. Defense, defense, defense.”

With the victory over Charlotte, the C’s notched their 40th win of the season. They currently sit at fifth place in the East, just half a game out of the four-seed and two games out of second.

Their next contest will be on Friday night when they take on the Detroit Pistons. That game is set to tip off at 7:30 p.m.