Jayson Tatum Explodes For 50 As Boston Celtics Earn 7th Seed. Up against the NBA’s All-Time triple-double leader and second-highest scorer in the league this season, it was Jayson Tatum who cemented his superstar status with an electrifying 50-point performance.
“Be the best player on the floor. That’s what I told myself coming into this game,” Tatum said following his performance.
He was by quite a considerable distance, no mean feat given that Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook were also sharing the court.
Not to mention his teammate Kemba Walker, who had a sterling night himself and finished with 29 points and 7 rebounds.
Beal still didn’t look fully fit and shot only 1 of 6 from deep, while struggling to contain Tatum on the defensive end in their one-on-one matchup (which was personal for all the right reasons).
Meanwhile Westbrook, for all his recent triple-double stat line heroics, had something of an underwhelming game.
The Wizards point guard had 8/13/5 by halftime but added no assists and only one rebound to that tally in the final two periods, before leaving the court with over three minutes left to play and walking straight to the locker room. It remains unclear whether it was injury, illness, or something else entirely that was bothering him.
Whatever it turns out to be, there isn’t a lot Washington might have done to stop Tatum, who proved a devastating force for the Celtics on the offensive end and brought up his half century with two free throws and the kind of shimmying, in-your-face, step-back three a certain Steph Curry would be proud of.
Washington held a single possession advantage at the half but Tatum’s 32 points after the break saw Boston snatch the lead, one which they would grow to as many 22 points and ultimately not relinquish.
It was in the third quarter that things got out of hand and the Celtics pulled away. Walker kickstarted 14 straight Boston points and a 19-2 run with three consecutive 3-pointers. Tatum followed with a 16-footer and a three of his own to give Boston a 69-56 lead with 8:09 left.
Gafford scored on a tip-in to interrupt the run, but Tatum answered with a dunk and another trey as the Celtics took a 74-58 advantage with 7:13 on the clock.
Tatum knocked down a 22-footer with 28.1 seconds left to cap a huge quarter and give Boston a 10-point lead heading into the final period.
After the game, the Wizards head coach Scott Brooks was unwavering in his praise for Boston’s swingman.
“They outplayed us… Tatum is a great player,” Brooks said. “Not a great young player; a great player. He’s going to be MVP in this league real soon.”
As decisive as Tatum was, the Wizards’ abysmal 14% (3-21) shooting from deep was also a heavily contributing factor in the loss. Brooks’ use of Alex Len in the starting line-up instead of the superior Daniel Gafford or reliable veteran Robin Lopez also seemed to be a critical error. Celtics center Robert Williams – who himself was a last-minute fitness call – outplayed and outworked the Ukrainian every second they shared on the floor.
Washington must now put Beal and Westbrook on ice for 24 hours and regroup ahead of a knockout encounter with the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night, a team who comfortably dispatched the Charlotte Hornets 144 – 117 in the earlier game. They have one final shot of making the postseason and earning a series with the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers.
For Tatum, life doesn’t get any easier. The Brooklyn Nets Cerberus of James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving awaits in the first round of the playoffs.
He has nothing left to prove, but the Boston Celtics will need him to be the best player on the floor and keep underlining that point to have any hope of progressing further into the postseason.