Before the Boston Celtics played the Dallas Mavericks on November 24, Jayson Tatum was questionable with an ankle injury before being cleared to play. After the Celtics defeated the Mavericks, Jaylen Brown joked with reporters that because of who the Celtics were facing, there was no way Tatum was going to miss the game.
“He was gonna play,” Brown said. “He knew who he was matched up with. He had that game circled. Don’t let him fool y’all. He was playing the whole time.”
The superstar who Tatum was matched up with during the Celtics-Mavericks game was Luka Doncic. Tatum and Doncic have been among the league’s standouts this season. On November 18, NBA.com ranked Doncic and Tatum as the league’s top two MVP candidates for the 2022-23 season thus far.
During the closing minutes of the game, Tatum guarded Doncic as he drove to the rim while managing to block the layup attempt.
Following Brown’s comment’s, Tatum said that his teammate was “probably right.”
Tatum Elaborates on Injury
During his postgame presser, Tatum explained why he opted to play on his sprained ankle.
“Anytime I get a chance to play, I’m always (trying to) lace em up,” Tatum said. “Sitting out is never really an option unless Nick (Sang) whines about it enough, but he didn’t fight me on this one.”
Tatum then told reporters how the ankle was feeling both before and after the game.
“It felt pretty good. I iced it for the last 48 hours. I try to keep the swelling down. I tested it out this morning at shootaround and decided to play. It’s still a little swollen, but there’s nothing that any basketball player hasn’t dealt with before with a little sprain,” Tatum said.
Tatum’s History With Doncic
The Celtics 125-112 victory over the Mavericks marked the first time the Celtics have beaten Doncic and the Mavericks since December 18, 2019, when they defeated the Mavericks 116-106. Since Doncic joined the league the year after Tatum in 2018, Tatum is 3-5 all-time against Doncic. Excluding the last two wins they’ve had against the Mavericks, these have been the finals results of all the games in which Tatum and Doncic have gone head-to-head.
-November 14, 2018: Mavericks won 1113-104.
-January 4, 2019: Celtics won 114-93.
-February 23, 2021: Mavericks won 110-107.
-March 31, 2021: Mavericks won 113-108.
-November 6, 2021: Mavericks won 107-104.
-March 13, 2021: Mavericks won 95-92.
Doncic did not play against the Celtics during the Mavericks’ second matchup on December 18, 2019.
Multiple times, Tatum and the Celtics were beaten by the Mavericks due to late-game shotmaking by the Mavericks. During their first matchup during the 2020-21 season, Doncic hit a near buzzer-beater that effectively put the game out of reach with the little time that was left.
During their first matchup against the Mavericks during the 2021-22 season, Doncic hit a buzzer-beater to help the Mavericks come out on top against the Celtics.
During their second matchup against the Mavericks that same season, the Mavericks yet again prevailed due to clutch shotmaking, but instead of Doncic, it was Spencer Dinwiddie who hit the go-ahead shot.
The Celtics will face the Mavericks again on January 5, 2023.