The Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets found themselves locked in a tightly contested matchup Saturday night; a game which included shooting slumps, injuries and miscommunication. Celtic’s rookie Jayson Tatum heroically found a way to lift Boston over the below-.500 Nets in a thrilling 87-85 victory, extending their winning streak to six games.
— Hoops N Brews Too (@HoopsNBrewsToo) January 7, 2018
All NBA teams go through rough quarters, its just part of competing in the league. The Boston Celtics are no exception to this phenomenon, opening the game with a comparably disappointing effort.
To start things off, both Tatum and Irving went scoreless in the first quarter, with Kyrie shooting an air-ball from behind the arc. Generally, a few trips to the free-throw-line would change the pace in favor of the fouled, but the C’s uncharacteristically missed all four of their attempts at the line in the first quarter.
This nets vs Celtics game 🔥
— B. (@Mr_Nodayzoff) January 7, 2018
The Nets had similar troubles as the Celtics – pushing through a shooting slump and attempting to put the game out of the Celtics hands early – something which they never where able to fully accomplish.
After only scoring 36 points in the first half, the two teams battled in the second half and kept it close until the fourth quarter when Marcus Smart hit a short jumper to push Boston to an 81-79 lead over the Nets with three minutes left to play. After several empty possessions on both sides, the Celtics decided to put the ball in Tatum’s young rookie hands, leaving him to do Boston’s dirty work late in the game. Once he was given the green light late in the fourth, Tatum drove baseline for an electric slam. But he wasn’t finished. He took the ball once again and stepped up and drilled a clutch 3-pointer, driving a steak through Brooklyn’s heart.
Is Tatum your ROY so far? pic.twitter.com/7gdbkaCURJ
— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 7, 2018
Brooklynn had multiple chances to tie the game up, but found themselves missing one contested shot after another, ultimately resulting in their demise. The Celtics went to battle against the Nets without one of their key big men, Al Horford. Horford had to sit out of the contest due to a left-knee injury suffered in Boston’s victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. The Celtics may have been able to run their offense more efficiently if their four-time all-star in Horford had been able to play, although replacement big man Aron Baynes finished a strong showing with eight points and four rebounds.
— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) January 6, 2018
— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) January 7, 2018
The Nets lead several times throughout the game but continued to struggle down the stretch. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and DeMarre Carroll both missed potential game tying layups, while guard Spencer Dinwiddie missed a floater with 55 seconds left to play. The game ended in heartbreaking fashion for the Nets as Hollis-Jefferson missed a crucial tip-in just before the buzzer sounded.
The incredible play by the young rookie Jayson Tatum is another example why some consider him the front-runner in the Rookie Of The Year Award rankings. Tatum finished the night scoring the final five points for the Celtics and coming away with a monster game in which he had 14 points, six rebounds, six blocks and three steals. His counterpart, Kyrie Irving, finished with 21 points, six rebounds and four assists.
This performance by Tatum makes a strong case for his ROY candidacy along with the likes of Donovan Mitchell and Ben Simmons. Tatum has been impressive to watch so far this season and C’s fans will undoubtedly want the rookie to keep up his tirade in the NBA. If Tatum can compete like this on a night-to-night basis, then he will likely be on his track for stardom.