After winning two-straight games coming out of the All-Star break, the Boston Celtics dropped their game against the New York Knicks on Monday night. It was an extremely rough shooting night for nearly everyone on the Celtics, but for Jayson Tatum in particular.
Tatum has been having a rough go of things since winning NBA All-Star Game MVP, and his shooting woes, compounded with his frustrations with the officiating against the Knicks, led to his first-ever ejection. After the game, Celtics veteran Al Horford sounded off on Tatum’s struggles and agitation.
“It’s a long season. Jayson’s been playing, as we all know, at an MVP level for most of the season,” Horford said via CLNS Media. “And, I mean, if you can go all 82 playing like that, that’s just tough. There’s gonna be ups and downs, and he’s the last guy that I’m worried about. I know what he’s about. My biggest thing with him is making sure that he feels right and that he’s good to go in April once the playoffs start. So, I’m not worried about it. Through the season, you’re going to have an off game here and there, and that’s just a part of it.”
Despite his recent cold spell, Tatum has been one of the best players in the NBA this season. He’s putting up MVP-caliber numbers and leading the best team in the NBA. One slump doesn’t dispel what he’s achieved this season, and Horford isn’t worried about his play moving forward, either.
However, his performance against New York left the Celtics high and dry. Tatum finished the game with 14 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists on 6-of-18 shooting from the field and 1-of-9 shooting from behind the three-point line.
Tom Thibodeau Praises Jayson Tatum
After the contest, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau was asked about how New York slowed Tatum down. He had extremely high praise for the Celtics superstar.
“He’s an incredible player,” Thibodeau said via CLNS Media. “So, I thought, when you play a guy like that, you’re just trying to make him work as much as you can, knowing you can guard him perfectly, and he can make [shots]. And he’s had big games against us. So, some of it was, he missed shots that he normally makes, but I thought we had an awareness as a team as to where he was, and we tried to make him work on every possession. That was probably the only thing. The thing about him – he can beat you [in] so many different ways. He can beat you off the dribble, he can beat you with a shot, he can beat you in the post, he can beat you with the pass. So, there’s constant pressure that he’s putting on you at all times, and he moves without the ball. So, when you add all those things in, if you’re not locked in as a team, there’s a lot of shots that he creates by his movement. Like, if he spins off the elbow, and you react from the corner, they’re skipping to the corner. And they’ve played very, very unselfishly for the last two years. They play for each other. They’re a terrific team. They’re strong on both sides of the ball.”
Jalen Brunson Discusses Knicks Win Over Celtics
In addition, Knicks star point guard Jalen Brunson broke down how they were able to take down the Celtics. His response was simple – Boston missed shots, and the Knicks capitalized.
“They missed shots. Obviously, they missed shots. But we just kept fighting, sticking together, we just kept talking,” Brunson said via CLNS Media.