Boston Celtics

Feb 23, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) shake hands after the game at Staples Center. The Lakers defeated the Celtics 114-112. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

By Ty Anderson,

Whenever you tie a LeBron James record, you’re doing your job.

And the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum is doing his job.

On the court of the 42nd playoff game of an NBA career that’s (somehow still) just three years old, the 22-year-old Tatum put up 25 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists in 41 minutes of Boston’s 117-106 win over the Heat. That was the fourth such line of his playoff career, tying him with LeBron James for the most games with that kind of quality line since 1965.

To quote James… SHEESH.

By now, it’s clear that Tatum has emerged as the true No. 1 the Celtics need to build a consistent championship threat in today’s NBA, and his continued leaps towards superstar status have been on full display since he went against James in the 2018 Eastern Conference Final. That series ultimately didn’t work out in Tatum’s favor, but even then, James noticed what the Celtics had in the No. 3 overall pick from the 2017 NBA Draft.

“I just love everything about the kid,” James said of Tatum after their 2018 series. “The way he plays the game, his demeanor, where he comes from. I know his parents. I just know he’s just built for stardom. He’s built for success. And that’s both on and off the floor.”

But matching James in this stat, wasn’t enough, as Saturday gave No. 0 his sixth consecutive game of at least 20 points, and the 24th of his playoff career. And that moved Tatum into some elite company — with James and the late Kobe Bryant to be exact — as the only players in league history to have at least 24 playoff games of at least 20 points before turning 23 years old, according to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Sean Grande.

Should Tatum continue to score at this clip, and should the Celtics advance out of their third-round showdown with the Heat, Tatum will have a legit chance of either tying or breaking James’ mark of 29, and join Kobe as the only two players in league history to have at least 30 playoff games of at least 20 points before turning 23.

And possibly against LeBron and Kobe’s former team, the Lakers.

That will have to come one step at a time, of course. I mean, the Celtics are still down in their series two games to one.

But it will also have to come with Tatum leading the way all the same.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.