Tatum ended the contest with 10 points, six rebounds, four assists, and six turnovers while shooting 21.4% from the field and an anemic 14.3% from deep. In a game where the Celtics needed their star player to step up and lead them toward victory, Tatum wilted under the pressure and failed to look like the player who outplayed Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets, just a few weeks ago.
Speaking on a recent episode of SportsCenter, former NBA champion Matt Barnes took aim at Tatum’s performance, noting how this isn’t the first time in the post-season that the St. Louis native has struggled to make an impact with his team trying to take the lead in a series.
“It was just one of those off-nights, and you know, he had one against Milwaukee Bucks in that series, and this is just a time that you can’t have off-nights. Three-for-fourteen, and obviously, you want to credit Miami’s defense because they made them tough looks.
But, outside of not shooting the ball well, he was also very loose with the ball, with six turnovers, Boston had 23 turnovers which led to 30 points for the Miami Heat, and in the playoffs, you can’t have that,” Barnes said.
Jaylen Brown Also Struggled With Turnovers
Tatum wasn’t on his own when it came to struggling to keep control of the ball, as his running mate Jaylen Brown was also at fault for giving the rock away too cheaply, ending the contest with seven turnovers to his name.
Speaking after the game, Brown took his share of the blame for how many easy baskets the Celtics afforded the Heat, noting that he has to improve his ability to take care of the rock, especially when being aggressive and driving the lane.
“Just be stronger. I did a s*** job today, taking care of the basketball. Just being stronger, driving, I’m going to keep being aggressive, I’m going to keep getting to the basket, keep doing what I do, but being stronger when I get in there,” Brown said following Boston’s 109-103 game three loss.
Celtics in Familiar Territory
Although losing to the Heat in game three is not the ideal scenario most Celtics fans had imagined, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. This is the same team that went blow-for-blow with the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round, with neither team stringing together consecutive wins until the final two games.
It looks like the Eastern Conference Finals are shaping up to be the same, as the Heat won the first meeting between the two teams, followed by the Celtics’ blow-out victory in game two, and then Miami regaining control in game three.
The downside to Miami winning on May 21 is that they’ve now regained home court advantage and won’t be facing a do-or-die scenario when the two teams head back to South Beach in game five – but the Celtics have to win their next contest against Miami on May 23, if they want to avoid being in a similar win-or-go-home scenario.
Luckily, the Celtics won’t have to wait long to get their revenge, as the current schedule sees the conference finals being played every 48 hours, which means teams don’t have much time to forgive and forget.