Ahead of their matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers, Monday night, Boston Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum was named NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week and received hefty praise from Celtics head coach Ime Udoka.
Udoka, who was asked for his immediate response to Tatum winning the honor, showered his team’s leading scorer with praise and said that after finding out about the news, he reached out to Tatum to congratulate him personally.
“It’s an honor, well-deserved,” Udoka said before Monday’s game. “As I mentioned, he’s a guy that’s pretty much carried the load for us all year. He’s shown responsibility with guys being out, steady and consistent. One of the top minute-per-game guys in the league. It just goes to show his professionalism. I sent him a text the other night just appreciating the work he’s put in.”
Ime Udoka on Jayson Tatum: ‘We Appreciate His Professionalism’
Tatum averaged 31.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and four assists while the Celtics finished their previous week 2-1 before their disappointing 108-103 loss to the 76ers — where the Sixers capitalized on a 13-3 run in the last four minutes of the final frame. Tatum is also ranked third in the NBA in minutes per game (36.5), per TeamRankings.com — which according to Udoka is a testament to Jayson’s effort, this season.
“For a guy that age, for what he does to take care of himself, to prepare himself; it’s well-deserved,” Udoka added. “Like I said, we appreciate his professionalism; perfect example for what we want, what we’re looking for.”
The 23-year-old All-Star turned in a poor shooting night against the Sixers. He finished with 17 points on 5-of-14 attempts, including 0-of-3 from behind the arc.
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Celtics Blow Fourth-Quarter Lead Vs. Sixers
While Tatum did make his presence felt on the defensive end of the floor, he couldn’t deter the likes of Tobias Harris (25 points), Seth Curry (26 points), and Joel Emiid, who finished with a game-high 41 points on 14-of-27 attempts, including 12-of-14 from the free-throw line.
Philly’s trio combined for a whopping 92 points — which was only 11 points shy of Boston’s point total. Jayson was also responsible for six of the Celtics’ 18 turnovers.
“Obviously, he got going, pretty much, a lot in the second half, but we were living with the contested twos and making plays there,” Udoka said after Monday’s loss. “Started to go after him more in the fourth quarter once we got Curry under control a little bit better there. And, in the end, I think our rotations were kind of slow behind that. We were pretty much going to take the ball out of his hands. That caused a few turnovers prior to plays, and the one that really stands out and hurts the most is the Danny Green three up top.
“Got it out of his hands, and the rotation wasn’t as sharp as it needs to be behind it, especially on some of the shooters.”
Tatum and the Celtics will look to finish their five-game homestand on a high note Wednesday when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden.