The Boston Celtics were unable to extend their series lead on Friday night. Instead, the Golden State Warriors took home the win in Game 4, tying the series at two games apiece. And despite his superstar status, Jayson Tatum continued to struggle.
Tatum scored 23 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and dished out six assists, but that was paired with an inefficient shooting performance and six turnovers. He shot 4-of-8 from distance but went just 4-of-15 from two-point range.
After the game, Celtics point guard Marcus Smart was asked about what the team has been telling Tatum behind the scenes as he continued to struggle shooting the ball. Smart said that everyone is still confident in Tatum and that it’s their job to keep uplifting him.
“Yeah, we all are. We just constantly let him know, keep going,” Smart explained. “This isn’t your first time being in a slump. Won’t be the last time. You got to figure it out. We trust you, we believe in you. This is what you’re made for. Jayson has to figure it out. We have to do a good job of helping him. But, you know, him being the player he is, these are the moments where he has to come alive and figure it out. He will. We don’t know when it is, but we’re sure it’s going to happen soon, we’re ready for it, and we’re here to back him up.”
Head coach Ime Udoka discussed Tatum’s performance after the game, too, providing his insight on what’s been going wrong.
Udoka on Tatum: ‘He’s Looking for Fouls’
When asked about Tatum’s struggles after Game 4, Udoka said that the star spends too much time seeking contact instead of just trying to attack the rim and get a bucket.
“At times he’s looking for fouls,” stated Udoka. “They are a team that loads up in certain games. He’s finding the outlets. Shooting over two, three guys. That’s the balance of being aggressive and picking your spots and doing what he’s done in previous games, which is kicked it out and got wide-open looks. That’s the ongoing theme so to speak, him getting to the basket, being a scorer as well as a playmaker. They do a good job with their rotations. Sometimes hunting fouls instead of going to finish. I’ve seen that in a few games so far.”
Tatum only earned five free throws in Game 4, going 3-for-5 from the charity stripe. In fact, he’s made more free throws in the NBA Finals than he’s made two-point field goals (19 free throws vs. 14 two-pointers).
When asked about his issues, Tatum didn’t admit to hunting for fouls, but he did stress the importance of swift decision-making.
Tatum: ‘Just Quicker Decisions’
The star was asked about whether or not he hunted for too many fouls in Game 4. However, while he didn’t directly answer that question, he did say that he needs to make “quicker decisions” with the ball in his hands.
“When I do have space, I’m open, I got to take the shot,” Tatum said. “Obviously, any time I hold it too long, they load up and things like that. I think just quick decisions, don’t turn down any open looks, any daylight that I have, just continue to try to make the right pass. I had too many turnovers tonight. I think just make quicker decisions.”
He’ll have another chance at turning things around in Game 5, which is set for 9:00 p.m. on Monday, June 13, in San Francisco.