As Jayson Tatum chased down the loose ball, he had to know LeBron James was lurking nearby. And yet the 20-year-old rookie showed no fear, no hesitation while immediately attacking the basket.
To understand why this play was so important,nfl jerseys cheap jerseys you must rewind six months to opening night in Cleveland when Tatum was battling a major case of first-game jitters. James swatted one of the rookie’s offerings in the opening minute, as big a welcome-to-the-league moment as it gets.
Now, in a sign of just how far Tatum and these young Boston Celtics have come, it was the rookie who won a footrace to the pass he had deflected into the backcourt, then after one strong dribble went up and finished as James eased up without truly contesting the finish.
Earlier in the day, James had been reminded of the time Tatum visited a Cavaliers shootaround when he was just 8 years old and challenged players like James to games of one-on-one. James said he remembered the visit, then offered high praise for modern-day Tatum.
“His composure, he plays above his age. The unfortunate events of injuries [the Celtics] have had has allowed him to get better faster than they expected,” James said. “It’s given him an opportunity to make fail plays or make mistakes and be able to learn from them and still be able to be on the floor.
“His talent, his composure, where he’s come from has allowed him to be successful. He’s a very, very, very good player already and he definitely, at this pace, can become a great player.”
For one night, the Celtics will simply revel in sitting on the cusp of an improbable Finals trip. And they can thank some of their youngest players for helping them get this far.
This was Tatum’s ninth 20-point game of the postseason; he now sits fourth on the NBA’s all-time list of most postseason points by a rookie with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (352) in his sights if Boston can extend its playoff run.nfl jerseys cheap collection
“It’s just been a lot of fun,” Tatum said. “I’ve just been enjoying it, the level of play, the atmosphere. The playoffs bring the best out of people and out of players, and hopefully we keep it going.”