Nets’ protection in opposition to Celtics’ Jayson Tatum might decide playoff collection

Nets’ protection in opposition to Celtics’ Jayson Tatum might decide playoff collection

Tatum vs. Brooklyn. The verdict of that on-court case might resolve whether or not the Nets can win their first-round playoff collection in opposition to the second-seeded Celtics.

The Nets’ Kyrie Irving goes to be booed vociferously by Celtics followers, starting along with his return to TD Garden for Game 1 on Sunday, simply as he’s throughout each go to to Boston. Irving’s tenure with the Celtics ended poorly, partly due to a much-scrutinized relationship with Jayson Tatum, 24, who has succeeded Irving because the face of the franchise.

But Tatum — who comes into the collection in opposition to the seventh-seeded Nets knocking on the door of NBA superstardom — stated Wednesday he realized lots watching Irving, who was already on the degree he was making an attempt to succeed in.

How to work. What to do. What to not.

“Yeah, he helped me out a lot those first two years, just watching a superstar,” Tatum stated after apply. “I bought to see him on daily basis, see how he labored, labored on his physique and put together for video games and issues like that, and be taught what to do. And be taught some issues what to not do.

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving is averaging greater than 27 factors per recreation for the Nets this season.
Getty Images
Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum is averaging 31 factors per recreation since March 1 for the Celtics.
Getty Images

“He’d be the first to tell me that. I could just learn from the encounters that we had. And obviously we’ve talked, and there’s some things that he probably told me wish he could do, would’ve done differently. But I think that’s just part of life. Nobody’s perfect, and you’ve just got to move on from it as you get older.”

Tatum isn’t outdated, however he clearly has realized.

If historical past is any indication, Irving can be showered with venom in TD Garden (he had a bottle thrown at him through the playoffs final 12 months). Irving stomped on the mid-court emblem of “Lucky the Leprechaun” following the Nets’ win in Game 4 of their first-round playoff conquer the Celtics final 12 months, and likened Boston followers to “a scorned girlfriend” this season. But that’s all simply narratives.

That isn’t going to find out victory or defeat for the Nets. But protection may — particularly, the Nets’ capability to sluggish Tatum. So far this season, it has been an incapability.

Jayson Tatum Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving guards Jayson Tatum throughout Round 1 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
NBAE through Getty Images
Jayson Tatum Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum embrace after the Nets beat the Celtics in final 12 months’s playoffs.
NBAE through Getty Images

Tatum has averaged 31.0 factors, 6.9 rebounds, and 5.2 assists since March 1, capturing .526 % general and .431 from 3-point vary.

So precisely how can the Nets sluggish him down?

The query shocked Kevin Durant, virtually as if he’d been requested what’s actually in Area 51, or the “Pulp Fiction” briefcase.

“S–t, that’s a tough question,” Durant stated after a pregnant pause. “He’s one of those players where you’ve just got to play hard and see what happens. He’s just so talented, skilled and efficient with what he does.”

While Durant and Irving have mixed for 5 video games of fifty or extra factors this season, none had been in opposition to Boston. But Tatum reached 50 in opposition to the Nets within the playoffs final 12 months, then hung 54 on them in a Boston victory on March 6, abusing them with the identical play time and again.

Jayson Tatum and Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving, left, and Jayson Tatum, proper, as Celtics teammates in 2018.

“We can’t let Tatum get 50,” Bruce Brown stated. “We have to be physical with him.”

Brown spent extra time guarding Tatum than some other Net this season, and allowed .571 capturing by the Celtics star in 47.8 partial possessions by way of three video games.

Durant was subsequent, utilizing his size to carry Tatum to .333 — and 1-for-7 from deep — in 45.7 possessions. And Kessler Edwards might be anticipated to get his probabilities off the bench.

“I’m aware of obviously the last time we played them, and it’s not something I go out and [say] I’m gonna score 50 today. It’s just the flow of the game,” stated Tatum, who abused the Nets in transition on March 6. “When you get going, the game just opens up. … I’ve been in that zone a handful of times. When it happens, it happens, but it’s not something I plan for.”

But the Nets should plan for him. Tatum led Boston to a 3-1 regular-season report in opposition to the Nets, averaging 29.5 factors as his tempo and gravity created for his teammates.

“Starts with slowing JT down. He has a great feel playing against us and everyone else around is very complementary [when] JT is getting doubled,” Irving stated. “I know that team very well and they know us very well. It’ll be a back-and-forth, and once you throw that ball in the air, you’re going to see some spectacular basketball. I’m looking forward to it.”

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