The Boston Celtics are a young and exciting team that belongs atop the Eastern Conference standings. This year, they will be looking to add another dimension on offense with rookie Jayson Tatum who is trying to make his mark in NBA history.
12:00:25 A.M. ET
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps
BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics have struggled in late-and-close situations all season. And Jayson Tatum has failed to hit jump jumpers this season.
Both tendencies collided here at TD Garden on Friday night, resulting in one of the Celtics’ most depressing defeats in a season that has been littered with them.
Tatum’s missed 3-pointer with 6.7 seconds left was one of nine consecutive Boston misses in the last 7 minutes, 19 seconds of the Celtics’ 109-105 defeat to the Trail Blazers, enabling the visitors to end the game with a 20-5 run to grab a win that looked to be theirs.
“It stings,” Tatum said after scoring 27 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and dishing out seven assists in 41 minutes but missing all six of his 3-point tries. “As it should, it disturbs you. You can’t, however, travel back in time.
“All you have to do now is go back to the gym, review some tape, learn from your errors, and attempt to improve.”
While Tatum did plenty of other things right, including serving as the team’s de facto point guard for much of the second and fourth quarters with starter Dennis Schroder on the bench, and repeatedly gashing Portland’s defense to either score at the basket or get fouled, racking up 14 free throws, the missed shots stood out once again.
Tatum’s six 3-point misses on Friday night extended his run of missed 3s to 20 — a career best — while his 0-for-17 mark over the last three games puts him second only to guard Michael Adams, who went 0-for-18 in a three-game period 30 years ago.
While Tatum hasn’t been particularly cold this season, it does add to what has been a season-long shooting slump for him. According to Second Spectrum’s monitoring statistics, Tatum’s effective field goal % on jump shots is currently 6.9 points behind what it should be after Friday night’s defeat — the smallest disparity among 67 NBA players who have attempted at least 300 jump shots.
Tatum is the league’s unluckiest jump shooter as a result of this.
Tatum, on the other hand, ranks 75th out of 79 players who have tried at least 200 3-pointers when just looking at 3-point attempts. In the same category, Boston is ranked 29th out of 30 NBA clubs.
While blaming Tatum and the Celtics’ shooting woes on bad luck this season may explain why the shots aren’t falling, it doesn’t alter the reality that the shots aren’t falling.
When asked whether there’s anything he can see that’s causing him to struggle to shoot the ball the way he has this season, Tatum, who is currently shooting 31.1 percent from 3-point range after shooting 39.6 percent entering the season, answered, “I don’t know.” “Perhaps things like these happen once in a while.”
“But I know for myself, and I’m guessing for some of the other players who aren’t shooting as well, it won’t impact how people defend us.” They know what I’m capable of, and all I have to do now is get out of it.
“I’ll do the same, and then we can speak about anything else.”
If Boston hadn’t gone cold as a team down the stretch — another frequent pattern in the club’s season — it may have helped shift the discourse surrounding Tatum’s performance Friday. The Celtics are currently 9-17 in clutch games this season (those in which the score is within 5 points or less in the last five minutes), which is the same as previous season.
However, not all late-game collapses are created equal, and this one was especially awful. The Celtics (23-24) didn’t score another shot for the remainder of the game after taking a 100-89 lead on a Grant Williams basket with 7 minutes, 19 seconds left. In fact, they didn’t score for almost seven minutes until hitting a flurry of free throws in the final minute as the two teams exchanged leads.
Meanwhile, the Blazers (19-26) continued to chip away at Boston’s lead, and after taking the lead with 31.6 seconds left on a Robert Covington 3-pointer in the corner — his first of the game, which came after Jaylen Brown left him to double into the post — Jusuf Nurkic, who finished with 29 points, 17 rebounds, and 6 assists (all of which led the Blazers), flipped in a putback of an Anfernee Simons miss that
Ime Udoka, the Celtics’ coach, stated, “It’s a bit disheartening since we had been better in such circumstances execution-wise.” “And, as easy as it may seem, it sometimes comes down to making some open shots.
“And they challenged some men to create it and take it out from [Tatum’s] hands, and we didn’t hold them accountable.”
The defeat brings Boston’s season record to 59-60, its lowest since the beginning of the 2020-21 season. Despite having two of the top young wing players in the game on its roster, the Celtics have been a.500 club for a long time.
However, both Tatum and Udoka feel the Celtics are capable of more, provided they can find the consistency that has evaded them so far this season.
“We need to be more consistent,” stated Udoka. “Recently, we’ve had some excellent victories and games in general. When you look at where we’ve ranked offensively and defensively over the previous 15 or so years, it’s clear that we’ve improved. We’ve been making good progress, which is why this one hurts more than the others. I felt that we had learnt from those early-season mishaps and needed to maintain consistency in that regard.”