Jayson Tatum Takes Blame for Celtics' 3rd-Quarter Struggles in Game 1 Loss vs. Heat

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 18, 2022

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 17: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics looks on against the Miami Heat during the third quarter in Game One of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals at FTX Arena on May 17, 2022 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum lamented his role in what proved to be a decisive third quarter in his team's 118-107 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

"It's on me. I had six or seven turnovers," Tatum told reporters after the game.

The Celtics led 62-54 at halftime but were outscored 39-14 in the third quarter. Miami rode that dominant 12-minute stretch to victory.

Boston certainly wasn't cruising going into the half, but it looked like the team was poised to wrest home-court advantage away from the Heat. And Tatum was a big reason why. He went 9-of-14 from the floor for 21 points along with five assists and four rebounds.

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Jayson Tatum is the 1st Celtics player with 20 points and 5 assists in 1st half of playoff game since Rajon Rondo in 2012, who was also playing at Miami that night. <a href="https://t.co/UcC9YK6Npd">pic.twitter.com/UcC9YK6Npd</a>

Then things quickly went off the rails. Tatum finished with more turnovers (six) than points (five) in the third quarter. The Celtics as a team shot just 2-of-15.

Blaming Tatum solely for the loss would be unfair, but Boston is having to play shorthanded for the time being. Al Horford entered the NBA's health and safety protocols, and Marcus Smart is dealing with a mid-foot sprain, and both players were out for Game 1.

Tatum had to shoulder a heavy burden on Tuesday, and that will continue to be the case as long as Smart is unavailable or operating at less than 100 percent.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year averaged a career-high 5.9 assists in the regular season, and it goes without saying how much an offense can suffer without its starting point guard.

Derrick White isn't a natural point guard, and The Ringer's Dan Devine wrote how Heat star Jimmy Butler "ruthlessly hunted" backup point Payton Pritchard throughout Game 1. Butler put up a game-high 41 points.

In order for the Celtics to even up the series in Game 2 on Thursday, a more consistent performance across all four quarters will be required from Tatum to combat not only Butler but also the depth at the Heat's disposal.