Celtics’ Ime Udoka Sends Strong Message to Jayson Tatum

Jayson Tatum, Ime Udoka

Getty Jayson Tatum, Ime Udoka

Game four of the NBA Finals. The Boston Celtics vs. the Golden State Warriors. A game that was played at a frantic pace, but ultimately saw the Celtics lose their composure in the fourth quarter, allowing the Warriors to tie the series at 2-2.

Jayson Tatum continued to struggle to score the ball, especially from inside of the three-point line, taking his NBA Finals averages to 50% at the rim, 25% in the short mid-range, and 15% from long mid-range – giving him a 20% conversation rate from inside the perimeter.

Considering Tatum is the Celtics’ best offensive weapon, his struggles couldn’t have come at a worse time, especially against a Warriors defense that prefers teams to get into a three-point battle with them. The All-NBA wing‘s struggles haven’t gone unnoticed, though, and during his post-game press conference on June 10, head coach Ime Udoka shared some ideas on how Tatum can get back to his best in game five.

VideoVideo related to celtics’ ime udoka sends strong message to jayson tatum2022-06-11T09:44:13-04:00

“At times he’s looking for fouls. They are a team that loads up in certain games. He’s finding the outlets. Shooting over two, three guys. That’s the balance of being aggressive and picking your spots and doing what he’s done in previous games, which is kicked it out and got wide-open looks. That’s the ongoing theme so to speak, him getting to the basket, being a scorer as well as a playmaker.

They do a good job with their rotations. Sometimes hunting fouls instead of going to finish. I’ve seen that in a few games so far…We talked about the balance, how much we rely on him to score and get other guys involved. Sometimes that balance leads to taking some shots or over-penetrating when he has a clean pull-up or two. Nothing wrong with the floater, mid-range pull-up to get yourself going, especially when the crowd is sitting there at the rim,” Udoka told reporters following the Celtics’ 107-97 loss.

Marcus Smart Defends Tatum

Of course, when you’re widely seen as a team’s best player, and that team is in the NBA Finals, your performances are under a microscope. And following Tatum’s poor showing in game four, there has been a lot of rhetoric surrounding his ability to lead the Celtics over the finish line.

Speaking to reporters during his post-game press conference, Marcus Smart reiterated that his team trusts in Tatum’s ability, and knows that a statement game is right around the corner for him.

Marcus Smart and Derrick White Postgame Interview | Celtics vs Warriors Game 4BOSTON, MA — Marcus Smart and Derrick White were both interviewed after Boston's 107-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Finals on Friday night. The 2022 NBA Finals is now tied at 2-2. —————————————– – #celtics #NBA #CelticsCLNS The CLNS Media Network is the leading provider for video/audio…2022-06-11T05:14:13Z

“We just constantly let him know to keep going. This isn’t your first time being in a slump. Won’t be the last time. You got to figure it out. We trust you, we believe in you. This is what you’re made for. Jayson has to figure it out. We have to do a good job of helping him.

But, you know, him being the player he is, these are the moments where he has to come alive and figure it out. He will. We don’t know when it is, but we’re sure it’s going to happen soon, we’re ready for it, and we’re here to back him up,” Smart said.

Tatum Knows he Has to Play Better

You can’t fault Tatum’s effort. When his shot isn’t falling, he can still rely on his ability to create for others, or how his movement drags defenders with him due to his scoring gravity. But, Boston needs him to be the All-NBA wing they know he’s capable of being. Anything less, and their chances of success take a drastic step backward.

This is Tatum’s first NBA Finals, and it’s possible that the weight of expectations on his shoulders is weighing him down, but, during his June 10 post-game press conference, the 24-year-old was clear-headed as he explained what he needs to do in order to impact winning for his team.

Jayson Tatum: "It's on me. I've got to be better." | Celtics Game 4 PostgameBOSTON, MA — Jayson Tatum was interviewed after Boston's 107-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Finals on Friday night. The 2022 NBA Finals is now tied at 2-2. —————————————– – #celtics #NBA #CelticsCLNS The CLNS Media Network is the leading provider for video/audio content. CLNS is a…2022-06-11T05:27:09Z

“I mean, I give them credit, they’re a great team. They’re playing well. They got a game plan, things like that. But it’s on me. I got to be better. I know I’m impacting the game in other ways, but I got to be more efficient, shoot the ball better, and finish at the rim better.

I take accountability for that. I just look forward to Monday. Leave this one behind us. Learn from it, watch the film, things like that, but everybody probably feels like they got to be better, myself included. Just go get it on Monday,” Tatum said.

Tatum and the Celtics will have another chance to take control of this series when they face the Warriors in game five on June 13, although they won’t have the backing of their home crowd for that game.



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