That’s how it’s done. He rolled through the first half of Game 6. He took over when things got out of control in the second half. Then, once he got his team back on track, Boston’s superstar forward made sure there was no doubt about the outcome.
Jayson Tatum had as dominant a performance as he’s had in his career, and this series will have a Game 7 as a result.
“I was excited to play today,” Tatum said. “Game 6, this was a big moment for all of us — for myself and the team, just how we would respond. Losing Game 5 was going to make us or break us. I think we showed a lot of toughness and growth coming out here, getting the win on the road and just giving ourselves a chance.”
Forty-six points on 58.9% shooting inside the arc and 46.7% from beyond the arc. Not to mention, he had nine boards, four assists and a blocked shot. It doesn’t get much more dominant than that.
“That’s why he gets paid the big bucks,” Marcus Smart said. “That’s it right there, for moments like that. I was telling him all game, ‘Just be you, man.’ And he was. Like I said, that’s what he gets paid to do — that’s what we lean on him to do.
“We did our jobs in the first half to give him a break while they did a good job on him. We stepped up and took care (of things) for him. And then he came in and did what he did, and he took that game over in the fourth and brought us all home.”
Smart and Jaylen Brown were able to get theirs, as well, finishing with 21 and 22 points, respectively. What was huge about their play, outside of their general output, was Smart and Brown each logged 16 shots apiece, combining to match Tatum’s 32 attempts.
That’s how it should be. Not necessarily that exact ratio, but Tatum needs to comfortably outshoot Smart. Tatum and Brown can be closer in volume, but in games like this, there’s no question who should get the extra touches.
That said, it’s not about Ime Udoka or someone else ensuring Tatum gets those looks. He needs to be aggressive within the flow of the offense and hunt the right iso opportunities when they present themselves. Tatum did that throughout Game 6, which is the main reason the C’s have a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
“It was a big-time performance,” Brown said of Tatum. “Our backs against the wall. … Love to see JT come out aggressive and carry us offensively like he did. Force a Game 7 — definitely a signature game for the Celtics and for Jayson.”
Game 7 starts at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, and Tatum needs to do something similar to what he did on Friday if the Celtics hope to play the Heat.