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Celtics' Jayson Tatum on Bouncing Back from Game 1 Struggles: 'I've Been Here Before'

Adam WellsJune 4, 2022

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum isn't concerned about his ability to rebound from a poor shooting effort in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Speaking to reporters after Saturday's practice, Tatum said he knows how to respond because this has happened to him before.

"I've had some bad shooting nights in the NBA," he explained. "So it's like, 'I've been here before.' I know what to do next game."

Tatum had his second-worst shooting game of the 2021-22 season by field-goal percentage Thursday against the Golden State Warriors. He made three of 17 attempts (17.6 percent) and finished with 12 points.

Despite the rough shooting night, Tatum did impact the game in other ways. The three-time All-Star had a playoff career-high 13 assists, with three coming during the Celtics' 17-0 run late in the fourth quarter when they took a 117-103 lead. He only had two turnovers, as well.

Tatum is right about his ability to bounce back from a poor shooting performance. Thursday was the third time this postseason the 24-year-old has shot worse than 30 percent from the field. The previous two times it happened, he has averaged 30.5 points with a 47.5 field-goal percentage in the next game.

One key difference from Game 1 against the Warriors is the Celtics won this game with Tatum having a bad scoring night. They lost the first two games when he failed to make at least 30 percent of his field-goal attempts (Game 3 vs. Milwaukee; Game 3 vs. Miami).

Boston's ability to steal the first game of the NBA Finals with its best player having a subpar offensive performance could be critical as the series continues.

Even with some potential regression coming for players like Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Derrick White (combined 15-of-23 from three-point range in Game 1), Tatum playing up to his usual standard can offset that.

The Celtics have been pushing all of the right buttons throughout this postseason. Tatum is their best player and figures to have a superstar showing at some point in the series. He will have his first opportunity to do so in Game 2.

The Warriors will host the Celtics at the Chase Center on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET trying to even the NBA Finals.

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