Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum came out flat in a pivotal Game 4 in their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Miami Heat, logging 0 points in the first half, and it largely contributed to the Celtics’ loss which put Boston in a 3-1 series deficit.
The Heat now look poised to close out the series, instead of the Celtics coming through in Game 4 to even the series at two games a piece.
“I wasn’t aggressive enough,” Tatum said, according to ESPN’s Tim Boptemps. “I didn’t score in the first half. That’s unacceptable. So I knew I had to play better, and that’s what I tried to do.”
Despite not scoring in the first half and taking only 6 shots in total, Tatum finished with 28 points, however the team is left to wonder what could have been if Tatum came out with a better approach.
“It’s basketball,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of Tatum’s poor start.
“I don’t want to oversimplify it, but we’ve all had nights where you don’t feel like it’s going for you. Then you go into the break — or you’ve seen great players do that, at least — where they go into the break and they can just reset, see one go through the net, and then they go.”
“I think that’s all Jayson needed to see. He was way more assertive, way more aggressive in the second half. But it was probably because he felt a lot better about it. He was, for whatever reason, I thought in the first half just struggling to find the net, and then it only takes a great player once or twice to get their confidence rolling.”
Tatum said he doesn’t have an explanation for why things went the way that they did in the first half, but understands that it’s do-or-die time for the Celtics.
“I wish I did. Simple answer is just we’ve got to be better. We know what’s at stake, we know what’s on the line, and we’ve got to play a complete game.
“It’s win or go home time. I wish we would have played like that from the start. I take a lot of blame, you know, I didn’t play like myself in the first half. So I’ve got to be better to start the game off on both ends.”