BOSTON — Jayson Tatum is the face of the Celtics, and arguably the city of Boston right now. In Saturday’s 117-94 victory over the Toronto Raptors, Tatum showed why he’s so valuable to this organization.
In 34 minutes played, Tatum finished +40 on the court with 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Through the start of the NBA season, Tatum becomes the first player to be +40 in a single matchup. Even better, the former Blue Devil leads the league at +166 on the floor, just above teammate Jrue Holiday. Over the last two decades, Tatum leads all players with multiple +40 games.
Jayson Tatum post game pic.twitter.com/pjX6fZ1Vtf— Sara Jane Gamelli (@SaraJGamelli) November 12, 2023
The scary part is, the Celtics star didn’t make a single shot until ten minutes into the first quarter. Once he found his stride, Tatum had 17 first half points, 11 of those came in the second quarter, where he shot 66.7 percent from the field.
What’s been the difference maker this year? His confidence. Up by 19 points, Tatum sunk back-to-back three-pointers over OG Anunoby in the fourth quarter. He sent a final message to the Raptors with 9:44 left to go in regulation.
I would say all of his workouts with Paul Pierce in the offseason are paying off. While some would argue it was a weak matchup, the Celtics absolutely demolished the Raptors. Once again, Tatum has proven he can beat anyone in a one-on-one matchup, and that continued Saturday.
With increased strength, The St. Louis native has transformed his style offensively, getting more looks out of the post and hitting mid-range shots. The Celtics took advantage and exploited the Raptors weaknesses on the defensive side. At one point, he was seen rolling through both Precious Achiuwa and Pascal Siakam. To showcase his strength, Tatum blew by Scottie Barnes, and powered through not one, not two, but three defenders to draw a foul.
After Boston missed their first four three-pointers, Tatum quickly adapted and exposed Toronto’s interior defense. This time, Tatum skirted by Otto Porter Jr., again causing three defenders to collapse. I’m not sure if Chris Boucher wanted the smoke, but Tatum was able to finish inside.
We always knew Tatum was a special player ever since he was drafted third overall in 2017. Throughout his seven-year tenure with the Celtics, his +/- has slightly increased every year. This year, it’s off the charts, up 18.4 from 8.8. Yes, It’s hard to ignore how impactful the forward has been on the court this season.
Post-game, Tatum made one thing clear. Despite hitting these milestones on the court, he only has winning in mind. While averaging career-highs in several categories, he humbly stated, “I just try to make good things happen when I’m on the floor.”
With Banner 18 only in sight, Tatum just wants to impact the game positively in every possible way he can.
“Play the right way, try to impact winning,” said Tatum. “I don’t necessarily think about plus-minus. I just try to go out there—every time I’m on the floor, I’m going to do the things that help us win. Hopefully I can keep that up, because it means I’m doing something right.”
With such an abundance of talent on this Celtics roster, Tatum admits that everyone will have to sacrifice in order to win games.
“We have a really good team,” Tatum continued. “We have four or five guys that average double-figures in points per game. Each night is going to be a little bit different. As long as we’re winning, that’s all of everything.”