The Boston Celtics are looking good up 2-0 against the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. They are just two wins away from bringing the franchise to its 18th title and breaking their tie with bitter rival Los Angeles Lakers for total championships in the league.

One of the hot talking points at the moment, however, is Celtics’ All-Star forward Jayson Tatum and his shooting woes.

Tatum shot 6-for-16 for 16 points in the Game 1 blowout (109-87), and 6-for-22 for 18 points in the hard-fought Game 2 (105-98) – that’s 17.0 points per game on a dreadful 31.6% shooting. It’s becoming reminiscent of his underwhelming 2022 NBA Finals performance vs. the Golden State Warriors, where he finished with a lukewarm 21.5 points per game on a 36.7% clip, and they lost, 4-2. It’s fun for the detractors, but only slightly concerning for Celtic fans. 


The key word there is “slightly,” because the Cs are in a much better shape in this finals, all things considered. They are boasting a healthy amount of confidence going into Dallas for games 3 and 4.

Additionally, Tatum is handling his struggles well. He’s just too skilled to be minimized with rough shooting nights. Though inefficient in his shots, he is also actively contributing in other departments. Lost in all of the underwhelming scoring and ugly percentages is his nose for the ball and playmaking, and how he’s on the positive side in each of the last two games.

  • Game 1 – 11 rebounds, five assists, +19
  • Game 2 – nine rebounds, 12 assists, +6

Celtics head coach Joe Mazulla also made sure to come at his star’s defense. He wants people to understand the type of elite talent Tatum is, and how he’s taken for granted for how simple he makes things look:

Further, the way the Celtics are set up also gives leeway for its main star to be ‘The Man’ while not putting too much burden on its shoulders, wherein it can be neutralized once the points aren’t coming. The other three main guys–Jaylen Brown (21.5 PPG, 3.0 SPG, 1.5 SPG 55.6 FG% ), Jrue Holiday (19.0 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 4.5 APG, 65.2 FG%), and Kristaps Porzingis (16.0 PPG, 2.5 BPG, 60 FG%)–are all good enough to win Finals MVP if Boston ends up winning. The entire supporting cast and defense are also both reliable.

Simply put, Tatum can trust his teammates to pick up the slack, so he has become a willing passer and more diligent rebounder, defender, hardworker for all the dirty work in return. Such is what made the Celtics the far and away, wire-to-wire, top-rated team in the NBA this season.