After falling flat in Game 5, the Boston Celtics bounced back on Friday night, earning a 108-95 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, thus forcing a Game 7. Giannis Antetokounmpo put up historical numbers, becoming the only player other than Shaquille O’Neal to put up at least 40 points and 30 rebounds in a playoff game. But despite his greatness, it was Jayson Tatum who stole the show.
The Celtics forward dropped 46 points, nine rebounds, and four assists on 17-of-32 shooting from the field and 7-of-15 shooting from three-point range. Tatum struggled shooting the ball in Game 5, but with Boston’s season on the line, he stepped up in a big way.
After the contest, Al Horford spoke with Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston about Tatum’s performance. The big man showered Tatum with praise, calling him ‘ a special player.’
“He took it to another level. That’s what big-time players do in moments like this,” Horford stated. “He’s a special player, and he showed it tonight. Poised. Knew when to shoot it, knew when to pass it, knew when to attack. We put a lot on him, and he delivered.”
Tatum’s masterful performance was the story of the night and the main reason the Celtics are heading back to Boston for a Game 7. The 24-year-old explained what got him going during his post-game press conference.
Tatum: ‘I Was Excited to Play Today’
After his 46-point outing, Tatum was asked about what motivated him to play so well. He said that the moment of the occasion got him hyped up, as he isn’t ready for Boston’s season to end quite yet.
“Knowing that if we lost, our season would be over with,” Tatum said. “I was excited to play today. Game 6. This was like a big moment for all of us. For myself and the team, just how we would respond. Losing Game 5 was gonna make us or break us. And I think we showed a lot of toughness and growth coming out here and getting the win on the road.”
Game 5 saw Boston blow a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter. They went cold in the fourth while Milwaukee shot 6-for-6 from three-point land. Jrue Holiday sealed the deal with a couple of clutch defensive plays, and the Bucks took a 3-2 series lead. But in Game 6, Tatum and the Celtics responded.
Now, with Game 7 on the horizon, it will once again be do-or-die for the Celtics. Only this time, they’ll be able to play in front of their home fans. As Boston prepares, Tatum is extremely confident about their chances.
Tatum After Game 6: ‘I’ll Take Us Any Day’
The Celtics superstar was asked about what he learned about the Celtics after their Game 6 victory. His response exuded confidence as he expressed his unwavering belief in his teammates.
“We are as close and as tough as I knew we were,” Tatum proclaimed. “Regardless of circumstances, I believe in everyone in that locker room. We have what it takes. And if we stick together and put our minds to it, I’ll take us any day,”
That togetherness is exactly what Boston will need as they face elimination for the second game in a row. Game 7 will take place at TD Garden on Sunday, with tip-off set for 3:30 p.m. EST. The game can be streamed on ABC.