Finals Notebook: Will fledgling Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum deliver an iconic moment?

If Jayson Tatum hopes to help Boston lift the 18th flag, he will have to improve his second half in the Finals.

San Francisco – As he strives to become one of the best players in the NBA, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum faces opportunities and challenges that could determine whether he can pull it off.

Can Tatum help the Boston Celtics win their 18th NBA title and take back the league lead from the Lakers for their first title in 12 years? With the Celtics and Golden State Warriors tied 2-2 in the NBA Finals, Tatum will deliver a signature performance in Game 5 on Monday (9 ET, ABC)? Don’t overstate its impact, but the Celtics’ upcoming game could significantly define Tatum’s legacy with one of the NBA’s most storied franchises.

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“It’s as much pressure as I’ve been under,” Tatum said before Sunday’s practice at the Chase Center. “It’s not something I think about when I go to sleep or wake up. Obviously, I want to win in any way necessary, and I’ll do whatever it takes. That’s what I really care about right now, winning.”

For the Celtics to win, Tatum may have to up his game. In four NBA Finals games, he averaged 22.3 points on 33.4 percent shooting overall (42.5 percent on 3-pointers), 7.8 assists and 7.0 rebounds. Those numbers largely lag behind Tatum’s regular-season scoring (26.9), shooting (45.3) and rebounding (8.0) — even as they break through in assists (up from 4.4).

“We wanted a package from him,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “It’s something he’s been able to do and improve on this year. For him, it’s just picking and choosing his position, when to be aggressive, when to involve the players and understand what they’re going to do what.”

Udoka played down Tatum’s performance in Game 1, where he had 12 points on 3-for-12 shooting. Udoka still likes Tatum’s brilliance over the course of his 13 assists. Udoka vs Tatum before Game 2 (28 points, 8 of 19 shooting, 3 assists), Game 3 (26 points, 6 of 23 shooting, 9 assists) and Game 4 (23 points , 8-for-23, 6 assists).

Udoka observed Tatum occasionally “overpenetrating,” worrying too much about drawing fouls rather than playing aggressively.Tatum agrees, vows to make necessary adjustments

“I don’t necessarily have to think about what this means for my career, just what it means for our team and what we’re trying to achieve,” Tatum said. “You guys talk about rankings and how that affects your legacy and things like that. It’s not up to me. I feel like every day, I’m doing what I can to influence the win at all costs.”


Thompson is approaching the third anniversary of his first season-ending injury

Game 5 will mark the third anniversary of Thompson’s left ACL injury in a decisive Game 6 loss to Toronto in the 2019 NBA Finals. Will this moment prompt Thompson to either express gratitude for the present or relive a painful past?

“Maybe for a second. But when I step on the court, I want to win in any way necessary,” Thompson said. “I don’t care how ugly or beautiful it is. Let’s win and protect our home. I’m not going to sing ‘Kumbaya’ or something. I just want to fucking win.”

Warriors forward Draymond Green doesn’t seem interested in reflection. Injuries thwarted Golden State’s hopes in the Finals, took the team away from Thompson for two golden seasons and set them on two tumultuous seasons culminating in the 2020 NBA Draft lottery And the 2021 play-off ended. Thompson missed the 2020-21 season after tearing his right Achilles tendon before training camp, but is still recovering from an initial ACL tear.

“There’s no need to talk about the unfortunate things that happened three years ago,” Green said. “We will stay in this moment. We will think positive thoughts and we will move on.”

Some still look back before the Warriors move forward.

“It’s something we’ll probably be talking about for a long time,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “Hopefully we can get this done and pay homage to that three-year journey that actually led to something really special.”

At the time, Thompson was battling frustration through drab rehab and courtside seats for 941 straight days. Whether it’s shooting bursts or slumps since his return, Thompson has often expressed his gratitude for being on the court again.

“I’m not going to change anything,” Thompson said. “I’m so grateful for everything I did that led to this.”


Will Green have a rebound game?

Draymond Green and Warriors head coach Steve Kerr have been outspoken about their occasional philosophical differences. So after Kerr had Green sitting in the clutch in the fourth quarter of Game 4, the pair felt there was little to make up for it, which may sound more true than most.

“Draymond is Draymond. He brings it every night,” Kerr said. “I think the thing that probably got lost the other night was how good he was in the game.”

Kerr praised Green’s 9 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 steals despite Green’s 1-for-7 shooting in Game 4 with just 2 points. Kerr sat in Green with 7:32 left in the fourth quarter and the Warriors trailed 90-86. As the Warriors led 97-94 with 3:02 left, Kerr came off the bench again on the next two possessions, leaving Green to defend. Green finished the game with two assists and an offensive rebound.

“I influence wins,” Green said. “I did it in the final stages and I need to take it to the fifth game.”


smart method

What started out as a big deal has now become a major luxury.

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart called himself “an energetic rabbit” during his childhood, which gave his mother a headache as he struggled to sit still. This prompted Smart’s mother to enroll him in a number of youth sports, including basketball, soccer, soccer and baseball.

The early experience deepened Smart’s love of basketball as well as his stamina, a key factor in ensuring he is recognized as Kia’s NBA Defensive Player of the Year for 2021-22.

“You have to keep going, you can’t give up. You can’t rest. You have to push yourself to the limit,” Smart said. “You’re playing against some of the greatest players and you have to be very motivated. I just keep telling myself that no matter how injured you are, no matter how tired you are, you have to keep going. That’s what you have to be a The mentality that a really good defender has to have.”


Injury Update, Warriors Edition

Shortly after walking down the arena corridors without a noticeable limp, Curry offered reassurance on how his left foot felt:

“great.”

Curry dealt with his pain as Celtics forward Al Horford ended the game and the pair chased the ball in Game 3.


Injury Update, Celtics Edition

Celtics center Robert Williams III is expected to play in Game 5 despite tweaking a surgically repaired left knee in Game 4.

“He’s happy if he’s optimistic,” Udoka said. “But we will test before the game as usual.”

Although he described his left knee as “a little sore”, Williams said he was still “feeling fine”. Williams has been in constant pain during the Celtics’ playoff run after undergoing surgery on March 30.

“I don’t even think about it anymore when I’m on the court,” Williams said. “Obviously, it was tough to deal with, but I didn’t really think about it on the pitch. I guess you could say my adrenaline was carrying me.”


Rotation shift

The Warriors replaced Kevon Looney at power forward with Otto Porter Jr. in Game 4, but it remains to be seen whether Kerr will run out of that lineup again to tip Game 5.

“It felt like almost every series, we had to find some combination and alternate patterns,” Kerr said. “I’ll do it.”


should be shoes

As it turns out, Curry’s success isn’t just down to his marksmanship. Or if the Celtics can somehow force some turnovers. It also depends on Curry’s shoes.

A reporter reminded him that the Warriors went 3-0 in the playoffs and Curry was wearing a purple “Curry 4 Flowtro.”

“If I knew the record now, I don’t know if it would have affected Ju-ju,” joked Curry. “I have a lot of different colors, so we’ll see. We’ll see what happens. You’ve got me thinking too now.”

Mark Medina is a senior writer/analyst at NBA.com.You can email him here, find his profile and follow him here on twitter.

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