Jayson Tatum agrees with other Celtics players taking clutch shots


Tatum took the Celtics’ penultimate shot and was expected to fire their final shot in their loss to the Jazz on Saturday despite struggling on the field.

Jayson Tatum struggled to shoot from the field on Saturday, going 4 for 12. AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

For at least two seasons, Jayson Tatum has been the Celtics’ go-to man for the final blow.

Even in games where Tatum isn’t shooting particularly well, the star striker always gets the last shot to tie or win the game. Sometimes the strategy works, like it did when he hit the game-winning shot against the 76ers in February after a 6-for-16 start from the field.

But the last two times, it didn’t work. On Monday, Tatum won the ball with the Celtics trailing by two in the final seconds against the Rockets despite shooting 8 for 21 from the field. He missed the layup at the buzzer, giving Boston the loss.

Tatum had a chance at redemption on Saturday. Trailing by one against the Jazz with 35 seconds left, Tatum recovered the ball and came up from 3 to try to take a two-point lead. Tatum’s shot missed, making him 4 for 12 from the field for the game.

The Celtics had another chance to take the lead and win the game, however, trailing by one with five seconds left. Tatum was also supposed to have another chance to redeem himself. However, Grant Williams went off-script when he got the inbound pass, taking the ball to the edge and shooting himself while blocked, giving the Jazz the win.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said the ball was supposed to land in Tatum’s hands on that play, engineering a dribble pass for Tatum to win the ball from Williams.

Even though Tatum didn’t have the ball on that play, several people wondered why he was set up to get the final shot again while shooting badly from the field and not someone like Jaylen Brown, who shot 9 for 19 from the field. score 25 points on Saturday.

Tatum said he doesn’t demand shooting in these situations.

“I don’t have an ego or anything like that,” Tatum told reporters after the loss. “I’m just trying to win. Joe can write a play for me, but there are other options.

During the final game, it appeared that Tatum was looking for the ball, or at least was in no rush to get it. He was lined up in the backcourt, appearing to be a decoy to create more open space in the lane.

Williams told reporters after the game that when he picked up the ball and looked to see who he could pass it to, no one else was open and Tatum was still in the backcourt, so he felt he had to shoot with the passage of time. .

“There was no possibility in that scenario,” Williams said. “I probably could have shot a floater. Probably the best shot. Or even just tried to get that ball to Sam. But (Lauri Markannen) did a good job of bluffing and pulling me out and forcing me in in Walker (Kessler).

Tatum wasn’t upset with Williams, who had his best game in a while scoring 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting on Saturday.

“They were kind of denying me the ball, and the ball is in Grant’s hands,” Tatum said. “He just had the option to go (dribble) to someone else or attack the basket. We have a baseline of what we’re trying to do. But it’s all about reaction. I have no ego or anything. I wasn’t mad that Grant took that punch and didn’t pass it to me. It’s basketball. I want guys to play with their instincts and just read the game.”

As for Tatum, Saturday’s game added to his list of tough shots over the past month. He made just 30.8% of his 3-pointers in March, making it his lowest 3-point shooting percentage of any month this season by a few percentage points. His 12 shots on Saturday were also the fewest he’s taken in a game since February 2022 against the Nets.

Tatum thought he was getting the right reads as the Jazz constantly bombarded him in the second half, leading to him taking just four shots as he failed to score in the final half.

“They were doubling me and I was making good play and we were hitting shots,” Tatum said. “I was just playing the game the right way. They were trying to take the ball out of my hands.

Tatum and the Celtics will be looking to end their six-game road trip on a high when they face the Kings on Tuesday night.


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