By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Jayson Tatum delivered in the clutch for the Celtics in the season opener. But on Sunday against the Pacers he came up short. You could say he came up far.
With about three seconds left in Boston’s 108-107 loss to Indiana, Tatum matched up against Malcolm Brogdon and decided to launch up the final shot with a chance to give the C’s another game-winner. The problem? Tatum’s shot came from at least a foot or two farther away than his clutch bank-shot against the Bucks, a 28-footer and a low-percentage shot when you see the distance and release.
The Celtics only needed a two-point bucket to snatch the buzzer-beating win. So why didn’t they try something closer to the basket? It’s fair to wonder if Brad Stevens could have drawn something up. But Tatum shouldered the blame for his ill-advised shot.
“That was on me,” Tatum said after the game. “I should’ve put more pressure on the defense. Obviously, that’s a shot I take a lot and I can get. But you want to put more pressure on the refs and the defense in that situation.
“It wasn’t an exact play that we drew up, but I should have just put more pressure on them. That’s on me in that situation. I’ll take full blame. I didn’t play nearly as well as I needed to and I’m capable of and what teammates expect of me.”
Tatum did finish with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists on a could-be-worse 9-for-21 (42.9 percent) shooting rate. So obviously he was far from a disaster on Sunday. But it was Domanatas Sabonis who came up with the big game-winning play for the Pacers, and fittingly it came from the low post.
Ultimately, Tatum’s shooting and decision-making in close games and clutch situations will determine how high he can take his career, and how far the Celtics go this season and beyond.
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? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at firstname.lastname@example.org.