The Miami Heat allowed the Boston Celtics to win one game. To become the first team in NBA history to come back from a 0-3 deficit in a playoff series, the Celtics will need their superstar to play like one during the next three games.
Jayson Tatum is crucial to Boston doing the improbable. The 25-year-old contributed to Tuesday’s critical Game 4 with a game-high 33 points (14-22 FG), 11 rebounds, and seven assists. He scored 25 of his 33 points in the second half.
Can Tatum maintain his momentum in Game 5 and beyond? On Wednesday’s Early Edition, our Chris Forsberg and Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix gave their perspectives.
“You haven’t gotten a real Jayson Tatum game where he goes like he did in Game 7 against the Sixers,” Forsberg said. “At no time in this series have you gotten the Jaylen Brown game. So I believe that is what you are holding to. Tatum is probably capable of that, but I don’t believe you can expect it to be consistent throughout.It’ll come in waves, and all he has to do is be great when it counts. And I believe that comes down to crunch time. Because if Jimmy (Butler) is going to be Jimmy in crunch time, you have to go punch for punch at some point, and Tatum has to be terrific in that moment.”
Brown has battled terribly in the series’ opening four games. The two-time All-Star has averaged 16.8 points per game while shooting 39 percent from the field (12 percent from three) and turning the ball over 12 times.
Having both of the Jays firing on full cylinders would obviously considerably boost the Celtics’ chances of a comeback. However, as Mannix points out, the role actors must also do their share.
“I’m less concerned about Tatum than I am about who will play the other guy.” Will Grant Williams come up and play a significant role in Game 5? Will Derrick White have a huge game? “I’m pretty confident that Jayson Tatum will play well for the duration of this series,” Mannix said. “However, in order for them to win games, someone other than Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown must step up.”
Williams (14 points) and White (16 points) both contributed significantly in Game 4. However, Brown and 2022-23 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon must rediscover their stride moving forward. Brogdon has averaging 8.5 points per game while shooting 35.3 percent from the field in the series.
They’ll try to shake their funk on Thursday and send the series back to Miami for Game 6. Game 5 at TD Garden is scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m. ET.