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Jayson Tatum’s report Game 7 reveals development as participant and particular person: ‘It’s solely up from right here’

“He started out last game with a mentality of I have to be perfect from the jump,” Hanlen instructed The Athletic after the Celtics beat the 76ers 112-88 to return again from a 3-2 deficit within the second spherical of the NBA playoffs for the second straight season. “Tonight, he was relaxed before the game, he was loose, and he just trusted himself. The rest was history.”

On Saturday, Hanlen and Tatum mentioned moving into the midpost extra to create simpler pictures to get him going early. They checked out his sidestep 3s which have grow to be an afterthought this season, searching for pictures that might create separation and provides him some confidence. When Hanlen FaceTimed Tatum after the sport, he mentioned he yelled, “Stepbacks and midpost!” as Tatum laughed.

“Everyone saw from the jump that he was going to put the team on his back,” Hanlen mentioned. “Did I think he was going to break the record I texted him this morning? No. But I also had all the faith in him showing up and having a big game. When you get things going early in the game, it gives you a bit of a rhythm. Then when you hit the sidestep, it just takes you to another level and you feel unguardable.”

Before the sport, a Celtics assistant coach made an offhand remark to The Athletic that Tatum was going to drop 50. The Celtics got here into the sport feeling the sequence was a wrap, that the 76ers blew their probability at residence to tug off the upset.

But Tatum knew his late flurry of buckets in Game 6 allow them to get away with a sport they most likely ought to have misplaced. The Celtics acquired fortunate and he didn’t need them to be in that state of affairs once more.

“I think going into Game 6, I was too — it sounds crazy — I was like too locked in,” Tatum mentioned. “I was too tight, just too in my own head thinking about what do I need to do? How many points do I gotta score? You know, this is a big moment. And today, I was more myself.”

He appreciated how a lot successful would have meant to his good friend Joel Embiid. They spend offseasons watching one another work out with Hanlen.

Tatum was a front-runner to win MVP early within the season, however he pale as Embiid took over and finally received the award. That was high-quality with Tatum. He understood there was one thing larger at stake.

When Embiid arrived for the primary day of his offseason program final July, he watched Tatum get his work in after which took the ground. He approached Hanlen and quietly requested, “What did JT say about the (NBA) Finals?”

“I pulled Jayson over and said, ‘Ask him.’ ” Hanlen mentioned.

Tatum defined how he wasn’t nervous till he arrived for warmups. Embiid joked he was attempting to determine all of it out so he could make it this season.

“Jayson said, ‘Once you get there, I’ll tell you one thing, sh—, (nothing) else matters,’ ” Hanlen mentioned. “The only thing that Jayson cares about is winning a championship, and I think he knows to do that he had to become a better playmaker, a batter defender and step it in every area.”

They each took that step ahead, discovering themselves practically a 12 months later going toe-to-toe with one another. Whoever received this sequence was popping out because the title favourite. After two weeks of battles and heroics, this was going to return down to 2 of the faces of the league battling it out.

“I’ve had a lot of battles. That’s somebody I’m really close with and extremely happy for,” Tatum mentioned of Embiid. “Seeing him win MVP, his reaction. A lot of you guys know we train in the offseason together. I’ve seen him a lot in that light. I’ve seen him develop. I’ve seen the things that he works on and I’ve seen the hard work that went into being an MVP.

“I even talked to him on FaceTime that night, just telling him congrats and I was truly happy for him. That’s just the kind of relationship that we have.”

Jayson Tatum and Joel Embiid. (Adam Glanzman / Getty Images)

Even as his season was over and his shot at a hoop had fallen aside, Embiid stopped on his means off the courtroom to greet Tatum’s mother, Brandy, and wish her a cheerful Mother’s Day. Even in a devastating second, Embiid and Tatum had nothing however love.

Sixers coach Doc Rivers mentioned Tatum’s efficiency was second solely to LeBron James’ iconic Game 6 masterpiece in the identical constructing in 2012, the turning level from which James lastly broke by way of from struggling prodigy to champion within the making.

Could this be the second for Tatum?

“It’s a movie. It’s a big movie,” teammate Marcus Smart mentioned. “Being able to just sit back, eat your popcorn and watch. Sometimes we do get in that mode where we forget that we’re on the court playing with him and you’ve gotta continue to play.”

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla knew that to have the boldness to go LeBron on everybody, it needed to begin exterior of his shot. Tatum’s capturing kind is a murals, the definition of steadiness and precision. When he misses, it comes from fatigue, focus and confidence.

To discover that temerity, it begins away from scoring. It begins with the whole lot else he’s executed to make up for the very fact he couldn’t hit a shot for many of this sequence. That’s why Mazzulla got here to him earlier than Game 7 and mentioned to overlook scoring.

“You’re not defined by scoring in my book, and that’s most important. Don’t let your identity be caught up in what others say about you,” Mazzulla mentioned he instructed Tatum earlier than Game 7. “Your identity is in who you are as a person and how well you can dominate the game in areas that don’t get all the attention. And I thought I saw that from him tonight, and when you do that, you get moments like that.”

“I’ve always been able to score the ball. I’ve always kind of been looked at as a scorer,” Tatum mentioned. “But to be the best player, to be one of the best players, what can I do each and every night on both ends of the floor besides scoring and impacting the game and dominating in those ways?”

Tatum rattled off all of the methods he made an affect, even throughout his in depth slumps on this sequence. From his numerous huge rebounds to diving on the ground to streaking throughout the courtroom for a block on the weak facet, Tatum has advanced from being the scorer he as soon as was.

It took a recognition that to make it to the highest, it’s a must to settle for all of the bumps within the highway and be taught to take them gracefully. That meant not being distracted and throwing your fingers up if you don’t get a foul and the quick break goes the opposite means. It means not chucking up warmth checks and breaking the offense’s rhythm if you want one to go in.

“You set a standard for yourself and now you have to understand all the sh— that comes with it,” his father, Justin Tatum, instructed The Athletic. “I was just like focus on (you) less, try to put the ball in more, and find a way to pull your team, and he will. You’ll see he wants to (complain), then he’ll put his head down and jog (back) like f— it, it’s over with. So I like that growth and maturity.”

(Top picture: Adam Glanzman / Getty Images)

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