Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Finals did not go well for Jayson Tatum. In 43 minutes of action, Tatum scored 23 points, but shot 8-for-23 from the field and turned the ball over six times. The very worst for Tatum came in the fourth quarter when he shot one-for-five from the field with his only basket being a three-pointer he hit at the 10:46 mark of the quarter.
Tatum failing to make a basket after that helped the Golden State Warriors tie the series at two games apiece. His struggles in crunchtime caught the attention of former Boston Celtics champion Kendrick Perkins. Perkins acknowledged the Celtics as a team lost that game, but challenged Tatum to rise up to the challenge when the going gets tough.
“We can keep talking about turnovers… X’s and O’s… transition defense, but what I saw today was the best player on one team was ready for the occasion and rose to the occasion and I’ve been waiting on the best player from our team, the Celtics, to rise to the occasion,” Perkins said. “Real talk, where is Jayson Tatum? I’m not talking about 25 points on 22 shots or going 8-for-23 tonight. When is he going to rise to the finals and have that big moment?… He doesn’t have to talk about or tweet about being a superstar. You’re there, we’re going to talk about it. You’re First Team All-NBA. Show it!”
Boston’s Fourth Quarter Woes in Game 4
The Celtics losing Game 4 to the Warriors wasn’t entirely on Jayson Tatum. The team as a whole struggled in the final quarter, scoring 19 points on 7-for-21 shooting from the field. The Warriors by contrast scored 28 points on 9-for-19 shooting from the field, which helped them pull away to win 107-97.
For more context, when the Celtics took a five-point lead at the 7:32 mark, being up 91-86, Boston only made two more shots the rest of the way. Marcus Smart hit a three at the 5:18 mark, then Al Horford hit another three at the 1:32 mark. Besides those two shots, the Celtics either missed their shots or turned the ball over.
This was the first game of the series in which Boston lost the fourth quarter. Before that, the Celtics were plus-40 in the fourth quarter of the previous three games against the Warriors.
With the Warriors having a nine-point edge in Game 4 against the Celtics, the Celtics are now plus-31. Time will tell if Game 4’s fourth quarter was a fluke or the turning point in the finals.
Perkins and Tatum Have Had a Dustup Earlier in 2022
On January 8, 2022, Perkins singled out Jaylen Brown’s triple-double of 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists in Boston’s 99-75 victory over the New York Knicks. He did this all while mentioning that Tatum did not play up to standards in the win.
Tatum did not take too kindly to Perkins’ words. He responded to Perk’s tweet saying that he should focus on praising a player without bringing another one down while acknowledging Brown’s good performance.
Perkins then responded by saying his intention was not to put Tatum down but to bring up that he wants to see both Tatum and Brown play well at the same time.
Between this spat and the challenge he gave to Tatum, it’s clear that Perkins is not afraid of criticizing Tatum when he does not play well.