Jayson Tatum’s message to Celtics before Game 1 fourth-quarter vs. Warriors

Boston Celtics fans have to be feeling pretty good after Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Not only did the Celtics steal home-court advantage from the Warriors with a 120-108 win that featured a 40-16 run in the fourth quarter, but they did it without their best player scoring a single point in the final 12 minutes.

The Warriors held Jayson Tatum to just 12 points on 3-of-17 shooting. Any opponent playing the Celtics would certainly take those numbers from Tatum, who averaged more than double that during the regular season.

But Tatum found other ways to contribute. He led the team with 13 assists – the most by any player in an NBA Finals debut – and finished with a plus/minus of plus-16, playing a team-high 42 minutes. And staring down a 12-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter, Tatum said the message to the rest of the team was that they have “been here before.”

“We know what it takes to overcome a deficit like that,” Tatum said to reporters. “Obviously, that’s a great team. It’s not going to be easy. But just knowing that we’ve been in that situation before and we’ve gotten ourselves out of it. And we had a lot of time left. It wasn’t time to hang your head or be down. It was time to figure it out.”

The Celtics figured it out – and then some. Thanks to contributions from role players like Al Horford and Derrick White, Boston’s 24-point turnaround in the fourth quarter tied an NBA Finals record.

And for Tatum, he said that he felt “ecstatic” after the game despite not posting his usual offensive stats.

“Bad shooting night, I just tried to impact the game in other ways,” Tatum said. “We’re in the championship. We’re in the Finals. All I was worried about was trying to get a win. And we did.”

A deeper look at Tatum’s stats could be promising to the Warriors. He shot 1-of-7 when guarded by Andrew Wiggins as the primary defender, and he was 0-of-5 off passes from Marcus Smart. In the first three rounds of the playoffs, Smart shot 53 percent off Smart’s passes, according to ESPN Stats and Info.

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Or, it could be a scary sign because a player of Tatum’s caliber will likely not have two rough shooting games in a row – especially not in the NBA Finals.

Either way, the Warriors have to be scratching their heads at not being able to hold serve in Game 1 despite an off-night from the Celtics’ best player.

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