Jayson Tatum Discusses First-Career Playoff Triple-Double: 'A Beautiful Game'

Apr 21, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) lays the ball in vs. the Miami Heat.
Apr 21, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) lays the ball in vs. the Miami Heat. / Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

In Sunday's series opener against the Miami Heat at TD Garden, Jayson Tatum repeatedly made the visitors pay for sending a second defender at him.

It's a microcosm of what happened throughout the regular season, as the five-time All-Star maintained a steadfast commitment to making the right play, punishing teams as a facilitator.

For Miami, doubling Tatum often led to a clean look from beyond the arc for Sam Hauser, who posted personal playoff-highs with 12 points and four made threes on six attempts.

The former Duke Blue Devil leveraging the Heat's efforts to minimize his impact as a scorer against them was crucial to Tatum's teammates finding an early rhythm and allowing the Celtics to play from ahead.

"That was a beautiful game from him," stated Kristaps Porzingis after Boston's 114-94 win in Game 1. "Getting those assists, especially early on. He was not forcing anything too much, getting everybody involved. 

"I think it's (a) huge credit to him, this game, how we all played as a team because he got everybody feeling good early on, and that was like (a) perfect game from him. Of course, for sure, he will say that he can play better, and he can. But overall, I think that was a beautiful performance."

And for as much as the defending Eastern Conference champions tried to slow down the two-time First Team All-NBA selection, including with their vaunted zone defense, he still put a team-high 23 points on the board.

"The mindset and approach throughout the game was great," voiced Joe Mazzulla. "I thought he played with great patience. I thought he picked and [chose] his spots very well. I thought he took what the defense gave him and found a balance of creating for himself and for others. So, fight for that discipline on the offensive end, and both ends of the floor, really is a huge key to the series."

Tatum, who also grabbed ten rebounds in Sunday's victory, didn't just register his first playoff triple-double, the 11th in Celtics history, he became their third player with a postseason stat line of at least 20 points, ten rebounds, ten assists, two steals, and fewer than three turnovers, joining Larry Bird and Rajon Rondo.

"It was real simple," said Tatum of the team-first approach that led to his latest career achievement. "Just making the right play, and – we talk about it all the time – not getting bored with making the right play. Finding the mismatch, drawing two, and surrounding yourself with shooters."

The Heat will make adjustments for Game 2 on Wednesday, but the star forward's ability to control matchups as a scorer and facilitator acts as a rising tide, maximizing his and his teammates' impact, creating a current that sunk Miami in Game 1, leaving them searching, perhaps without an answer, as to how it can stem the tide.

Further Reading

Celtics Protect the Parquet in Dominant Display in Game 1 vs. Heat

Kristaps Porzingis Makes Clear What Celtics' Mindset is Entering Playoffs

How do the Heat Adapt Without Jimmy Butler? Joe Mazzulla Weighs in

'I Knew It': Jaylen Brown Discusses Celtics Drawing Heat in Round 1

Brad Stevens Addresses Potential Extension with Derrick White

Jrue Holiday on Celtics Extension: 'Try to Get More Banners, Get More Rings'

Celtics Embracing Challenge to Go Beyond Most Talented

Jayson Tatum Opens Up About Sacrificing in Celtics' Title Pursuit: 'It's a Process'

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Bobby Krivitsky


Bobby Krivitsky's experiences include covering the NBA as a credentialed reporter for Basketball Insiders. He's also a national sports talk host for SportsMap Radio, a network airing on 96 radio stations throughout the country. Additionally, he was a major-market host, update anchor, and producer for IMG Audio, and he worked for Bleacher Report as an NFL and NBA columnist.