Even though Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, who was coming off a record-setting performance at the 2023 NBA All-Star game, wasn’t having his game shooting-wise against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, he still came through in the clutch when it mattered most. And he saw it coming too.
“Coming out of that timeout, I told Grant [Williams], I said, ‘That’s game.’ I told him, ‘It’s game time. We’re going home,’” Tatum told reporters in the post-game, referring to the timeout called by the Celtics following 76ers’ center Joel Embiid hitting a pair of free throws to tie the game at 107-107. “I knew it had been a tough night. But it was a perfect story, right? Tie game, five seconds left, haven’t been shooting well. Come through for the guys when you need it the most.”
And come through he did. Tatum’s three-pointer over 76ers guard De’Anthony Melton was his third of the night, although prior to that shot he was only 6 for 16 from the field and 2 out of 7 from downtown. But he had confidence he’d hit the game winner, as it was a play that Tatum had practiced “thousands of times” before under previous Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens.
“Get some separation, make a play,” Tatum said of his shot. “Felt him leaning, snatched it back. It’s a move and shot that I worked on thousands of times before.”
Though Tatum has been criticized for his mental tenacity in the past, his game-winning three-pointer against the 76ers showed he’s maturing on the court both mentally and physically. He noted that even if you’re having a bad game from the field, you have to “shoot the ball with confidence and believe that the next one is going in no matter what,” which is a mentality one has to have when the game’s on the line.
“Obviously, I wasn’t playing well, shooting the ball well,” Tatum said. “Always shoot the ball with confidence and believe that the next one is going in no matter what. Shoot the right shot. If you miss five in a row and the next one you wide open, you got to shoot it. That’s what’s best for the team.”
The Celtics’ win over the 76ers kept them in first place in the NBA Eastern conference standings, with a 44-17 overall record.
What did you think of the comments made by Jayson Tatum on his game-winning shot against the 76ers? Do you think Tatum is maturing mentally as a player as well as physically? Let us know in the comments.