Things were not looking good for the Boston Celtics for the entirety of their Friday night matchup against the San Antonio Spurs. However, after being down as much as 32 points in the game, Jayson Tatum was not going to allow his team to lose yet another game, as every game is meaningful for the playoffs from here on out.
Jayson Tatum had an incredible game on Friday night that showcased him setting a career high with 60 points, tying the Boston Celtics franchise record set by Larry Bird.
As soon as the ball was in the air for the opening tip-off, Tatum had his foot firmly on the gas pedal and was in complete control of whatever he wanted to do on the court. That said, Tatum scored 14 of Boston’s 16 points in the first quarter and looked unguardable while doing so. The Celtics superstar single handedly erased a 32-point deficit, which led to a 143-140 overtime victory.
Tatum finished the game shooting 20-37 from the field and connected on five of seven from behind the arc. He scored 24 points in the first half, 25 in the second half and 11 in overtime. At the end of the game, Tatum logged a career high 60 points, which ties Larry Bird for the franchise record he set in 1985. Bird and Tatum are the only players in Celtics history to produce such a game.
On top of tying the Celtics franchise record for the most points scored in a game and becoming the first Celtic to score 50 or more points twice in a season, this game also featured Tatum becoming just the second-youngest player in NBA history to score at least 60 points in a game. The first player to do so was Devin Booker, who ironically dropped 70 points on the Celtics at the TD Garden in 2017.
“It was a special night. Just being around guys, playing with guys you enjoy being around, and are happy for your success … we all see the hard work each and every one of us put in every day, so that when someone, myself or whoever it is, has a night like that, just to share that moment with them is special. Just to have your teammates be happy for you means everything.” – Jayson Tatum, via Tim Bontemps of ESPN
As I mentioned earlier, this was not a well executed game for the Boston Celtics. With fans finally being in the stands, we unfortunately saw them leaving by halftime due to the Celtics playing so poorly throughout. Head coach Brad Stevens said that his daughter actually left the game early and that he didn’t blame her for doing so. In fact, he said that he would’ve done the same if he wasn’t coaching the team.
“I would have left at halftime. I know my daughter left at halftime. She’s got stuff to do tomorrow. There was no reason to stay.” – Brad Stevens, via Tim Bontemps of ESPN
Jaylen Brown, who also set a career high earlier in the week, finished the game shooting 5-24 from the field finishing with 17 points in 44 minutes. Although it wasn’t his best outing, Brown hit the most important shot for the Celtics to seal the deal on their victory. Tatum’s counterpart went on to acknowledge that he played poorly throughout Friday night’s game and that Tatum carried the team to a win all on his own.
“That boy is destined for greatness. He did exactly what a great player is supposed to do. He was efficient, led us, hit timely shots – big baskets – real big-boy basketball. That’s what we need. We’re going to need that going forward. I couldn’t throw a rock in the ocean tonight, and JT carried us to a win, man. He played hard. He led us tonight.” – Jaylen Brown, via USA Today
For the Boston Celtics to be successful in their remaining eight games of the regular season, both Tatum and Brown need to be at the top of their games and play as if they’re the best players on the floor every night. These final games of the season are vital for the Celtics’ playoff seed and could also be the determining factor in receiving an invitation to the play-in tournament, which wouldn’t be ideal for Boston.
The Boston Celtics currently have a 34-30 record, which has them tied for fifth place in the Eastern Conference with the Atlanta Hawks. The Celtics will look to build off of Tatum’s momentum in their next game on Sunday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.