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The Celtics rammed the Dallas Mavericks once again. Successfully defending their home court, they now hold a commanding two-game lead in the NBA Finals. While they won, the battle of duos still belonged to Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving despite the latter playing far below his standards. It’s mostly due to the shortcomings of Jayson Tatum who has only scored 34 points in these Finals so far. It’s something he experienced even in the 2022 NBA Finals. But how concerning is it?

He was bad man, Ryen Russillo claimed as he laughed off JT’s 18-point Game 2 on the Bills Simmons podcast. “No one’s body language is awesome when you play as bad as Tatum does for somebody that’s supposed to play really special. Is supposed to be Finals MVP. I don’t know anybody would have ever have great body language playing the way he just did tonight”.

It was sadly true. While the Boston Celtics won, their prodigal savior played a terrible game. He has found it challenging to find success against the improved Mavericks defense. Tonight, he only shot 6-22, another uncharacteristic showing for a riveting postseason performer. But it just seems Tatum gets rattled when in the Finals. In the six games he has played, he is shooting below 40% from the field. But why are his shooting numbers preposterous?

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USA Today via Reuters

Bill Simmons analyzed his shot map from tonight and noticed a lack of Chris Paul within him. “The Chris Paul shot is the thing. That’s why I don’t think he is a finished product yet because what he needs is the Chris Paul shot. Because he’s beating these guys off the dribble and then he doesn’t know what he wants to do once he beats them”, said Simmons.

There were more than a handful of possessions when Tatum breezed past his defender into the mid-range territory. CP3, a master of the art is well recognized for his mid-range brilliance. Tatum however is yet to adapt to the middy. He can drive to the rim at will, but when those shots don’t fall, the Duke product seems indecisive. Tonight, he only took four shots outside the restricted area and managed to convert none. For the entire postseason, he is only shooting 37.5% from mid-range. It’s a lane of his game that he needs to refine to cement himself as an offensive juggernaut.

If he starts embracing the space near the free throw line and utilizes his fluent jumper, Tatum could become a three-dimensional threat. That would make Boston even more terrifying than they presently are.

After all that, Tatum wasn’t completely ineffective. He took the role of a point forward tonight. Tallying 12 assists, he became the floor general while drawing defenders to the paint and making a play either for the three or near the baseline. Jrue Holiday and Derrick White benefitted the most, combining for 44 points.

For the likes of Jayson Tatum, an extraordinary basketball player, he is expected to attack and flourish rather than initiate that offense. In this series, that title is on the line. Even Jason Kidd, the Mavs head coach relinquished Tatum from the title of being the best player on the Celtics before Game 1. Can he recover his status? That can only be deduced once the Celtics land in Dallas for Games 3 and 4.

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Jayson Tatum’s misery is the Boston Celtics’ gold mine

As much as Jayson Tatum has struggled, the Celtics seem unconquerable when he hasn’t been playing well. Just look at the two games so far. In Game 1, Tatum had 16 while shooting below 40%. The Celtics won by 18 points. Tonight, the same story repeated itself and the Celtics edged out in a thrilling contest.

But it gets more bizarre. It has been the narrative throughout this postseason run for the Celtics. In the six games Tatum has failed, the Celtics have remained undefeated. How is that possible when the team’s leading scorer can’t provide the Celtics with his expected output? It’s all thanks to the incredible depth in the Celtics lineup.

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Jaylen Brown, the secondary for Boston has been a promising standout throughout the 2024 playoffs, Additionally, the likes of White and Holiday can cover the shortfalls due to their experience and skill. Boston is quite truly a team with endless options. Their reliance on Tatum is minimal in comparison to their many postseasons in the past.

That’s the reason the Celtics were the best team in the NBA and have only lost two games in their 2024 playoffs. After bowing out in the first two games, do you think a Jayson Tatum resurgence is inevitable? Let us know your views in the comments below.