Boston Celtics

Oct 20, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) controls the ball against New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jayson Tatum did not have his best stuff in the Celtics’ season opener. Despite ending up with 20 points, it came on 7-for-30 shooting from the floor, including an abysmal 2-for-15 from three-point range.

What was behind Tatum’s shooting struggles in Boston’s double-OT loss to the Knicks? Head coach Ime Udoka shared some insight in a call with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Zolak & Bertrand on Thursday. Tatum wasn’t lacking for open looks at the basket, but things snowballed for him after he couldn’t knock shots down.

“Once he missed a few early, I think he started pressing and really trying to find his shot, and settled for a few contested threes,” Udoka said. “We still want him to attack the basket and put him in a few different spots, so he’s not sitting on the perimeter the whole time, but a lot of those looks were wide-open. Fifteen is a lot of threes, and maybe shave those down when you’re not shooting it as well. But for the most part, you can’t pass up some of those open looks. Guys were penetrating and kicking, he got open looks. Maybe it was a little fatigue late, but early in the game, just missed some wide-open ones.”

“For the most part, we’re going to ride with him and tell him to take the open shots when he has them.”

Udoka seems to believe that for Tatum, it’s as simple as maintaining good shot selection, and the baskets will start to fall his way. But Tatum certainly needs to bounce back after a shockingly inefficient performance in New York.

Udoka also talked about Robert Williams’ impressive opener, and what the team is doing differently to aid his development. Listen below for the full interview on Zolak & Bertrand.

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