After adding the dramatic finishing touch to an impressive comeback win over the Detroit Pistons Sunday, Boston Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum carried that momentum to Tampa, Florida, where he had an absurd first-half shooting display against the Toronto Raptors.
By halftime, Tatum tallied 26 points, including 4-of-5 from behind the 3-point arc and a perfect 10-of-10 from the free-throw line. Jayson helped erase an early 13-point deficit in the second quarter, where the Celtics outscored Toronto 38-14 before grabbing a 61-46 halftime lead.
Tatum finished with 40 points – one-point shy of his career-high (41) – on 11-of-19 attempts to go with his 5 threes. The Celtics pulled away with a 26-point lead in the second half and eventually topped the Raptors 126-114.
It was an impressive win for the shorthanded Celtics – a team that announced hours before tip-off that it would be without guard Marcus Smart (sprained right thumb). Third-string point guard Tremont Waters was inserted into the starting lineup for Smart.
Boston Celtics Bench Steps Up: ‘Tatum Was Tremendous Tonight But We Had A Lot Of Really Good Performances
It was a devastating blow for Brad Stevens and his backcourt that is already without All-Star Kemba Walker and Jeff Teague, who sprained his left ankle in the second half of Sunday’s win against the Pistons. Stevens, of course, credited Tatum’s terrific 40-point performance after the Celtics win Monday night, however, he couldn’t help but talk about Jayson’s teammates and how well they played despite being shorthanded.
“Tatum was tremendous tonight but we had a lot of really good performances,” Stevens said. “You know, the second night of a back-to-back for the second time this year. Guys being out; no excuses. (We’ve) had a bunch of guys out, and just played the way that you should play. That’s through a standard; we’d like to hold that to the end of the game. But I thought that for the most part, guys all did a good job; all the way down the line.”
Celtics rookie Payton Pritchard’s 23 points led Stevens’ second unit while guys like Semi Ojeleye and Grant Williams also made an immediate impact off the bench. Semi connected on 3-of-5 from behind the arc and pulled down 8 rebounds and Grant added 14 points, including three 3-pointers, 3 blocks, and finished the night a team’s best plus-28 game rating.
With a big fourth-quarter lead intact, Tatum’s night was seemingly over when he checked out of the game just one field-goal shy of setting a new career-high. However, when the lead dwindled down to 10; Stevens subbed in his starting lineup to close out the win.
Jayson Tatum Falls One-Point Shy Of Career-High: ‘I’ll Get There Soon Enough’
Still, Tatum failed to score in the game’s last two minutes; keeping his career-high at 41 points. The All-Star was asked if he was disappointed in himself.
“Disappointing? No,” Tatum replied. “I’ll get there soon enough.”
The Celtics will take on the Eastern Conference champion Heat Wednesday night in Miami.