Calling Jayson Tatum.
Tatum, superstar and franchise player of the Boston Celtics.
Where was your best when your best was needed in Game 5 versus the Milwaukee Bucks?
Why did you allow Giannis Antetokounmpo to thoroughly outplay you to the tune of 40 points on 16-of-27 shooting?
Even worse, why did you allow Antetokounmpo to take over the contest down the stretch when your team held a double-digit lead and looked to be on the way to a 3-2 series lead?
Instead, now your team is down 3-2, and you’re heading to Milwaukee facing elimination.
Your team needs you to be your old dominant self on Friday, otherwise, you will be forced to watch the rest of the playoffs on television while licking your wounds.
Tatum Has Been Inconsistent In This Series
Throughout the Eastern Conference semifinals, Tatum, whom some think isn’t too far off from becoming the best player in the NBA, has been up and down.
In Boston’s two wins in this series, he scored 29 and 30 points, respectively, and in Game 4, he played very well in crunch time, leading his team to a 116-108 win that tied the series.
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) May 7, 2022
But in the Celtics’ three losses, Tatum has been very underwhelming.
When they dropped Game 1, 101-89, he shot just 6-of-18 from the field as the team shot a putrid 33.3 percent overall.
He was even worse in Boston’s tight Game 3 loss, making just 4-of-19 shots and scoring only 10 points while only mustering two points in the fourth quarter as it lost by just two points.
Being a superstar means much more than just putting up nice numbers in the regular season and generating some temporary hype of possibly being the best player in the game.
JAYSON TATUM OH MY 🤯 pic.twitter.com/qxkHJY46jz
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 10, 2022
It ultimately means playing one’s best when one’s best is needed regardless of the circumstances or the opponent.
Antetokounmpo, on the other hand, has consistently shown up in this series whenever a game has been hanging in the balance.
He has proven that he is still the best player in the world, while Tatum is proving that he still lacks something that is needed to get to the next level.
Tatum Has An Enormous Opportunity To Redeem Himself
The Celtics’ hopes may look somewhat dim right now, but if Tatum plays as well as he is capable of playing and they take Game 6, they would force a decisive Game 7 back in the Boston Garden.
If that’s what happens, the momentum and complexion of this series will significantly change, and suddenly the pressure will largely shift onto the shoulders of the Bucks, especially if All-Star Khris Middleton is still not ready to return from a sprained MCL.
By carrying Boston to two wins in its next two games, Tatum can improve his reputation and start to build what he hopes will be a legacy that stacks up well with the other superstars who have played for the team over the last several decades.
The Celtics measure success by world championship banners, and until Tatum hangs one of his own, there could be a lingering perception in New England that he doesn’t quite have what Larry Bird, John Havlicek, and Bill Russell had plenty of.