By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Moral victories mean nothing in professional sports, but the Celtics got one on Friday night. All they needed was Jayson Tatum to not be a disaster shooting the ball and they likely edge the Bucks out.
Unfortunately, Tatum indeed had a disastrous night on offense, shooting an unfathomable 2-for-18 from the field in the Celtics' 119-112 loss to Milwaukee in their first real game back. One could chalk it up to simple rust. He did not lack clean opportunities, occasionally finding open space and getting shots that he typically makes. But ultimately, a combination of the Bucks keying on him defensively and purely sloppy shooting added up to his second-worst FG percentage of the season.
Naturally, many who witnessed that debacle will be worried. The important thing is that head coach Brad Stevens, decidedly, is not.
"He got some decent looks off pick-and-rolls. They did a good job loading up to him. They did a good job at the rim on him," said Stevens on Tatum. "He'll go back and look at it. He had a couple nights like that earlier in the season, too.
"The least of our concerns is him finding the net. That's what he does. So, he'll be fine."
Tatum went 0-for-4 from three-point land and finished with a team-low minus-13 on the night. And yet, the Celtics found themselves in a tie game with 1:28 left in the fourth quarter. If a Giannis Antetokounmpo offensive foul, which would have knocked him out of the game, isn't overturned to a good basket, maybe the Celtics find a way to steal a win.
There's no question that the Celtics need Tatum to be his usual self to have any hope of going far in the playoffs, and they can't depend on Marcus Smart to carry the offensive load in his stead. But the fact that the game could've gone either way in the final minutes should bear hope for Boston's potential should they clash with Milwaukee again.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].