Jayson Tatum overcomes rough night to be late-game difference-maker in Celtics win

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="It was about as bad a start to a game as Jayson Tatum has had all season.&nbsp;» data-reactid=»16″>It was about as bad a start to a game as Jayson Tatum has had all season. 

The first quarter ended with him on the bench with three personal fouls.

Tatum the superstar became Tatum the spectator for the entire second quarter as Boston hung on to a slim two-point halftime lead.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Keep in mind that this Celtics team has seen its share of adversity, the most recent being Gordon Hayward being lost after Game 1 with a Grade 3 ankle sprain.» data-reactid=»23″>Keep in mind that this Celtics team has seen its share of adversity, the most recent being Gordon Hayward being lost after Game 1 with a Grade 3 ankle sprain.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston’s coverage of Celtics-76ers Game 4, which begins Sunday at 12 p.m.&nbsp;with Celtics Pregame Live.&nbsp;You can also&nbsp;stream&nbsp;the game on&nbsp;the MyTeams App.» data-reactid=»24″>Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston’s coverage of Celtics-76ers Game 4, which begins Sunday at 12 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

And while having Tatum sit for a long stretch isn’t nearly as impactful as the loss of Hayward for the rest of the series, adversity is still adversity. 

But for this team, whether they lose a player for a series or a quarter, it doesn’t matter.

They treat adversity like a yellow light in traffic, quickly speeding ahead to achieve the only thing that matters this time of year – winning games.

That’s because no matter how bad they may be playing, this team embodies the «Anything is Possible» mindset of former Celtic legend Kevin Garnett. 

A key player (Hayward) goes down for the series?

Meh. 

Win by 20 and some change.

The best scoring option (Tatum) gets in foul trouble, sits for a quarter and isn’t much better when he returns?

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="He'll make timely baskets down the stretch and deliver the defensive play of the game (blocking a Joel Embiid shot) that leads to the go-ahead basket for a lead that would not be relinquished.&nbsp;» data-reactid=»35″>He’ll make timely baskets down the stretch and deliver the defensive play of the game (blocking a Joel Embiid shot) that leads to the go-ahead basket for a lead that would not be relinquished. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="This is a team that has an unusual mix of youthful, above-average talent at key positions, with an across-the-board faith that no deficit is too steep, no amount of missed shots will prevent an opportunity for a comeback, and maybe most significant at this time, no amount of patting-on-the-back will keep them from taking a beaten-down team like the Sixers for granted which was key in them pulling away for a 102-94 win to take a commanding 3-0 series lead.&nbsp;&nbsp;» data-reactid=»36″>This is a team that has an unusual mix of youthful, above-average talent at key positions, with an across-the-board faith that no deficit is too steep, no amount of missed shots will prevent an opportunity for a comeback, and maybe most significant at this time, no amount of patting-on-the-back will keep them from taking a beaten-down team like the Sixers for granted which was key in them pulling away for a 102-94 win to take a commanding 3-0 series lead.  

And while we’ve seen Tatum wow us with his shot-making, Game 3 was a mile-marker kind of game for the 22-year-old. 

Since his ascension in the playoffs while delivering some supernova numbers, the game – and success – seemed to come so easy to him. 

Tatum came into Game 3 having scored 30-plus points in each of the first two playoff games against Philadelphia, the youngest player in the storied history of the Boston Celtics to achieve that feat.

And in Game 1 he became the youngest player in franchise history with a double-double of at least 30-plus points and 10 or more rebounds.

But as the fouls mounted early on in Game 3 and the shots continued to clank off the rim, Tatum seemed even more determined to impact the game in some fashion.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="&nbsp;"He knew he was having a rough night," said Kemba Walker who had a team-high 24 points. "He kept encouraging guys to keep playing. He never put his head down. And that’s special; especially from a guy his age. You could easily put your head down and get frustrated especially the way he has been playing lately."» data-reactid=»42″> «He knew he was having a rough night,» said Kemba Walker who had a team-high 24 points. «He kept encouraging guys to keep playing. He never put his head down. And that’s special; especially from a guy his age. You could easily put your head down and get frustrated especially the way he has been playing lately.»

He has been praised for killing teams with his shot-making, but Tatum’s defense can be pretty deadly, too. 

Philadelphia had possession of the ball leading 94-92 when Embiid got deep post position and went up for a shot. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Tatum slid away from his defender and was able to block the shot which led to a Jaylen Brown 3-point play and more importantly, put Boston ahead for good.&nbsp;» data-reactid=»45″>Tatum slid away from his defender and was able to block the shot which led to a Jaylen Brown 3-point play and more importantly, put Boston ahead for good. 

This game, more than any of the previous two in this series, defines Tatum’s status as a leader and superstar in this league.

Because it’s one thing to put up big numbers and have a great game and get the win.

It says so much more about his growth, that he could have a night when his shots just weren’t falling (he was 6-for-19 shooting) and yet still manage to be the ultimate difference-maker in his team getting the win.

There will be those who’ll view Tatum’s play in Game 3 as his back-to-Earth moment, a time when the lofty, video game-like numbers he was putting up took a precipitous dip.

But in reality, it is his Game 3 performance that showed just how far he has come not only as a player, but as a leader of men who doesn’t have to dominate the stat sheet when it comes to being there for his team when it matters most.

«Jayson, for his age … he just shows so much maturity,» Walker said. «His poise is second to none.»

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Jayson Tatum overcomes rough night to be late-game difference-maker in Celtics win originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston» data-reactid=»54″>Jayson Tatum overcomes rough night to be late-game difference-maker in Celtics win originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston