Through two games, the combined margin of victory in the series between the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks is 43 points. Two complete blowouts – just like we all anticipated, right?
The only thing more shocking than the sizeable wins from both teams is the fact that Jayson Tatum has been nearly invisible in both.
In game one he scored only four points on 2-of-7 shooting. That performance, however, was masked by the Celtics’ tone setting beat down and Al Horford, Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown’s ability to lead the charge offensively.
Maybe he just wasn’t needed that night.
But boy was he needed on Tuesday night in game two. In the midst of a despicable third quarter for Boston and a 31-5 run by Milwaukee, Tatum was nowhere to be found. Not only did he not make a shot during that desperate time, he only scored five points all night on 2-of-10 shooting.
For a guy who was the Celtics’ leading scorer in last year’s playoffs as a rookie and averaged 15.4 points per game against the Bucks in the 2018 postseason, only having four made field goals the entire series so far seems out of character.
However, head coach Brad Stevens knows that Tatum is quickly crucified for his mistakes because of his age and the high standards he has set for himself. He isn’t too worried about No. 0 getting back on track.
“At the end of the day, everybody is going to have ups and downs and we know there’s a lot of growth ahead, but we also know what [Tatum’s] capable of,” Stevens said. “Not only from a physical standpoint but, also an emotional, mental and preparation standpoint.
“That’s part of what separates him at this age. It doesn’t mean he’s going to play perfect, it doesn’t mean he’s going to make every shot and Tatum is going to have a 2-for-7 game occasionally.”
The good thing for Tatum and the Celtics is that this series is shifting back to Boston where, if you look at recent history, the whole team tends to perform significantly better. Over the last two seasons the Cs are an impressive 12-1 at home in the playoffs.
Tatum is averaging 20.5 points per game at home this year in the postseason compared to 11.25 points per game on the road. He’ll look to feed off the energy of the screaming fans at TD Garden to help him return to his dominant ways.
But if you ask Stevens, it’s not just Tatum getting hot from the floor that will be the immediate answer for the Celtics to get back into the win column.
“My focus is on all of us,” the head coach said. “We all have to be better. There’s some things that each guy can do better and things that each guy needs to bring to the table and we need to make sure we are all clicking.”
Game three is slotted for 8 p.m. on Friday in Boston where Tatum will try and make their homecoming a memorable one.