Jayson Tatum Takes His Maturity to Another Level After Comeback Win Over Cavs

Jayson Tatum

Getty Jayson Tatum and his Boston Celtics teammates are sacrificing stats for wins.

This may have been a breakout game for Jayson Tatum, and he missed 12 of his 19 shots. The Boston Celtics star finished with 25 points, sharing the team lead with Jaylen Brown, as the Celtics rallied from 15 points down to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 120-113 on Tuesday, December 12.

Along with the 25 points, Tatum collected 10 rebounds and five assists. His numbers this season are below his career average, and he addressed those stats after Tuesday’s win, taking a giant leap in the maturity department while doing so.

Jayson Tatum Admits Sacrifice Is Key for the Boston Celtics

Things looked bleak for the Celtics early in their game with the visiting Cavaliers. Looking to remain the lone unbeaten team at home in the NBA, the Celtics got off to a slow start as the Cavs soared to a 15-point lead in the first half.

Boston chipped away and dug deep defensively in the fourth quarter, holding the Cavs scoreless for nearly a three-minute stretch. All five Boston starters finished with double figures in scoring as Boston won its 11th straight home game this year.

After the game, Tatum said making sacrifices is a big part of Boston’s success this year.

“(Head coach) Joe (Mazzulla) often challenges me to dominate the game,” Tatum said postgame. “I understand the dynamic of our team, just how talented we are offensively. Myself, JB, D. White, KP, Jrue, Al, everybody has to sacrifice.

“I’m certain none of us are averaging career-highs in points, right? We’ve all taken a dip, but it’s for the better of the team. Our success as a unit is more important, and we understand that. We know what the ultimate goal is.”

Tatum Admits Sacrifice Is ‘Not Easy’

Last year, Tatum struggled through a good portion of the postseason. After a rough series against the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Tatum went off in Game 7, scoring 51 points and sending the Celtics back to the conference finals. He scored 16 points in the final quarter.

After eclipsing the 50-point mark against Philly, Tatum ran down the court and held up ’51’ with his fingers, knowing exactly how many points he had. Stats were important to him. After the game, he told a national television audience that he was, “Humbly, one of the best basketball players in the world.”

This year is a different story. Stats don’t matter to him. Winning does. Tatum is older and wiser this year, and his maturity level has been turned up a notch.

A year ago, Tatum averaged a career-high 30.1 points. Boston lost at home to the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the conference finals. This year, he’s averaging 27.4 points with much better offensive talent around him. Boston is tied with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the best record in the league at 17-5.

Tatum did admit that sacrifice can be hard.

“Human nature plays a part, right?” Tatum said. “It’s not easy. You’re accustomed to playing a certain way, scoring a certain amount of points per game. You kind of have to empathize with every guy that it’s not easy, but we’re winning. We’re gonna need everybody to achieve our ultimate goal.

“Winning takes care of everything.”

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