Jayson Tatum Pulls No Punches After Disappointing In-Season Tourney Elimination

Jayson Tatum

Getty Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics gets fouled by Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers.

The Boston Celtics are headed back home instead of going to Las Vegas. Courtesy of the Indiana Pacers, the Celtics next take the court Friday, December 8, at TD Garden instead of playing under the bright lights of Vegas in the semifinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament on Thursday.

The Pacers dominated the third quarter in the tournament quarterfinals on December 4, outscoring the Celtics 37-23 en route to a 122-112 victory. The loss was disappointing to the Celtics, leaving star Jayson Tatum to think about what could have been.

“I wanted to f****** go to Vegas,” Tatum told reporters after the game. “I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to go to Vegas. Next year, I guess.”

Tatum and Jaylen Brown each hit the 30-point mark, with Tatum scoring a game-high 32.

The Boston Celtics Commit 17 Turnovers

The third-seeded Celtics were the favorites to win the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournaments, and Boston played with postseason intensity in its tourney games.

But Boston wilted in the third quarter and the Celtics committed 17 turnovers in the game. Meanwhile, the Pacers turned over the ball only six times.

“When you turn the ball over, you just let them get out in transition,” head coach Joe Mazzulla told reporters after the game. “I thought we lost some of our offensive purpose and didn’t take care of the ball.”

Celtics guard Derrick White placed much of the blame on himself, especially for his play in that ugly third quarter.

“We had a lot of turnovers, which makes them play faster,” White said, per NBC Sports Boston. “Personally, I felt like I was horrible in the second half, and it led to them getting a lot of easy looks. I gotta be better in that aspect.

“I turned it over too many times for sure. I felt like I didn’t manage it the way I should have. I just gotta be better.”

Boston Celtics Are Not Forcing Many Turnovers

Though the Celtics are 15-5 this season and in first place in the Eastern Conference, they have been poor when it comes to one key defensive statistic.

Boston is third to last in the league when it comes to forcing turnovers, doing so at a 10.8% clip. Only the Detroit Pistons (10.6%) and Brooklyn Nets (10.0%) have lower opponent turnover percentages than the Celtics.

You can’t say the NBA In-Season Tournament didn’t mean anything to the Celtics. Boston played several high-energy games during a November/December stretch typically reserved for ho-hum hoop.

Although the loss is painful and disappointing, the Celtics trail only the Minnesota Timberwolves (15-4) for the best record in the league.

The Celtics have been accustomed to disappointment over the last couple of seasons. Last year, after rallying from a 3-0 deficit against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Final, they hosted the Heat in a winner-take-all Game 7. Miami embarrassed Boston in front of its home crowd, winning 103-84 and earning a trip to the NBA Finals.

The previous season, the Celtics reached the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010 and held a 2-1 series lead against the Golden State Warriors. Golden State then won three straight games to close the series.

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