Jason Tatum had a tough shooting experience during the first four games of the NBA Finals.
The Celtics’ top scorer this season has scored 28 of the 82 field goals (34.1 percent) so far in the series. Friday 4 added to Tatum’s shooting problems. He scored only 8 of his 23-to-23 goals in the Celtics’ 107-97 loss to the Warriors, which tied the series.
Oddly enough, Tatum shot well from the rear. He’s made 14 of 31 three-pointers (45.2 percent), which means he only shoots 27.5 percent from inside the arc.
Game 4 has been a prime example of Tatum’s inside shot versus his outside shot so far in the Finals. He was a 4 of 8 from deep but only made 4 of 15 2 shots, making only 3 of 9 shots in the paint.
Many of Tatum’s attempts to drive appeared in Game 4 as if he was looking for a contact to get to the free throw line. When the Warriors collapsed on Tatum as he drove to the basket, he shared what he thought he could do best to defeat it.
“When I have space, I’m open, I have to take the picture,” Tatum said. “Obviously, any time I hold it for too long, they load up and things like that. I think it’s just quick decisions, don’t dismiss any open looks, in whatever light of day I have, just keep trying to do the right pass.”
“I had a lot of inversions tonight. I just think make faster decisions.”
Tatum had a couple of high assist games in the series, knocking out 13 in Game 1, 9, and Game 2. He had a decent amount in Game 4 (six), but had the same number of turns.
Tatum played more on the transformations he committed rather than the shots he got.
“I don’t think that’s the problem. Asked about creating space for himself to get open shots, I mean, I feel like I can get my shot at any time,” Tatum said when asked about creating space for himself for the duration of the game, not necessarily just staring. Sometimes we get it, we all do sometimes. We just have to move. I think this is the time when we are most effective, when everyone is on the move.
“We move the ball really well, but it’s kind of hard to move the ball when we’re standing there.”
Celtics coach Im Odoka shared his belief that Tatum could have more “balance” in his shots, saying he could take “some jumpers, some of that stuff, instead of going over the edge”. Oduka also thought the Tatum and Celtics were looking to mismatch too much in the 19-point fourth quarter.
Tatum shared that there had to be other things working other than getting a positive match in isolation in order to score.
“Yes, there’s just a balance,” Tatum said of the mismatched catch. “You don’t want to do that in every game because I hope you stop and run out of the transition.
“Even when you find the mismatch, what you want, some guys still move around on the butt, not just standing there watching, you know, putting on screens, flares, slips and things like that. It’s kind of hard to score in isolation every time.”
Celtics starting point guard Marcus Smart offered words of encouragement to Tatum after Friday’s game.
“We just keep it up, keep it up,” Smart said. “It’s not the first time you’ve been in a slump. It won’t be the last. You have to figure it out. We trust you, we believe in you. That’s what you were made for. Jason has to find out. We have to do a good job of helping him.”
“But, you know, being the player, these are the moments where he has to live and find out. He will. We don’t know when that will happen, but we are sure that it will happen soon, we are ready for it, we are here to support it.”
All in all, Tatum tip his hat to the Warriors for how he guarded during the first four games of the series.
“I give them credit, they are a great team,” Tatum said. “They’re playing really well. They have a game plan, stuff like that.
“But it’s on me. I have to be better. I know I affect the game in other ways, but I have to be more efficient, hit the ball better, finish the ball on the edge better.”
“I take responsibility for that. I’m just looking forward to Monday. Leave this behind. Learn from it, watch the movie, stuff like that, but maybe everyone feels they should be better, including me. Just go get it on Monday” .
Tatum’s offensive struggles are just a sign of what has been haunting the Celtics since they swept the nets in the first round. Since Round Two of Round Two against the Bucks, the Celtics have been only 3-8 in the games they’ve played after winning this season. Boston had an excellent chance of climbing 3-1 in the NBA Finals on Friday night, which would have given them three chances to win just one game for the NBA title.
Instead, they have to win two of the following three games in order to get Banner 18.
“We don’t do this [expletive] on purpose. “I promise, we don’t,” Tatum said when asked if the Celtics are making it more difficult for themselves than they need to. “We’re trying as hard as we can. There are certain things we have to clean up. Obviously the transitions, the movement at the end of the attack. Would we have liked to win today and go 3-1? This would have been the best scenario.”
“But it’s the finals. The art of competing, they came here feeling they had to win. It wasn’t easy. I think that’s kind of the beauty of it, it’s not going to be easy. It shouldn’t be. We know we both want it and we have to go get it.”
“I think it is that simple. I just have to be better,” Tatum added. “I know I could be better, so it’s not like I, myself or my team are asking me to do something I’m not capable of. They know the level and I know what level I can play at.
“It is my duty to do that more often than just helping my team in the best possible way.
“There is not a lot of pressure at all. It is kind of like my job.”
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