Jayson Tatum Weighs In On Daniel Theis’ ‘Seal Foul’ Controversy Vs. Nets

Getty Images Jayson Tatum drives to the basket during the first quarter against the Brooklyn Nets

Throughout 2019-20, Boston Celtics center Daniel Theis evidently doubled his value to the team when he honed an important move that ultimately catapulted the offense and made him a mainstay in head coach Brad Stevens’ starting lineup.

Theis’ ability to seal in the post opened a plethora of scoring opportunities, especially for All-Star Jayson Tatum, whose leap into stardom took flight last season when he averaged 23.4 points. Jaylen Brown, another one of Theis’ main beneficiaries, also rose to a 20+ point scorer last season and it was Daniel’s sealing in the post that helped open new opportunities.

Unlike a typical screen, sealing is very effective because it disallows the defender to beat his man to the spot. The seal essentially creates space and gives the scorer an extra step just before the layup.

Theis integrated this into the offense in a big way. So, when he was whistled for an offensive foul for his seal on DeAndre Jordan in the second quarter of Friday night’s loss against the Nets; the call against him came as a surprise.

Jayson Tatum On Daniel Theis’ Controversial Offensive Foul: ‘I Guess They’re Emphasizing That’

Tristan Thompson, a big part of the Celtics’ defense, alongside Theis in the frontcourt, was also whistled for an offensive foul when he made the same move. Tatum, whose shot was taken away in light of the call against Theis, was asked about the specific play, following the game.

“I don’t really get that,” Tatum said. “If they rolled and sealed, I don’t think it’s much difference if they were rolling to catch the ball. I guess the refs watch tape on it; I guess they’re emphasizing that so I think we got to adjust.” 

If that’s the case, this is a problem. For starters, the NBA hasn’t made light of this supposed rule change, and for Theis and Thompson, it’s going to make things even harder for them to create space for Tatum and Brown when they’re in attack mode. 

Head coach Brad Stevens was livid. It was almost as if you can see Stevens mouth the words “that’s the sole reason I’m starting Theis and Thompson together” through his facemask as he vividly voiced his opinion to the officials.

Theis was so fired up about the call that he approached an official immediately after the following timeout was called. He needed a thorough explanation.

Stevens was not asked about the call, following the loss. Instead, he talked about play actions, thus other ways to create easy looks for Tatum and Brown because he’s going to have to get creative as the season progresses without his All-Star point guard.

Jayson Tatum & Jaylen Brown To Seek Better High-Percentage Shots

Still, Tatum and Brown are looking good out of the gate. However, consistent high-percentage looks are key and while Jaylen’s attacked the rim more often than Jayson, Brown went 5-of-9 from the charity stripe against the Nets.

As for Jayson? He’s played through the first eight quarters of the regular season and has yet to see the free-throw line – that’s a problem.

Tatum says it’s also a focal point, moving forward, for him and Brown.

“I think that’s something we both got to get better at,” Tatum said. “Just getting easier looks, you know, I think it makes it tougher. If we catch and hold, the defense gets to load up. If we attack more off (play) actions, we get easier looks.” 

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