Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“When we were in Washington [in February], [Markieff] fouled Kyrie [Irving] at the end to send it into overtime,” said Marcus Morris, recalling how a pair of Markieff fouls beyond the 3-point arc allowed Boston to escape with an overtime triumph in D.C. “This time, I did a bonehead play and came in and they hit a 3 for overtime.
“So twins do dumb s—, I guess.”
The Celtics had a chance to steal the win when rookie Jayson Tatum lost his defender with a spin move and got fouled driving at the basket for an and-1 layup with 3.1 seconds to play in the first overtime. But Tatum, an 83 percent free-throw shooter, missed from the stripe.
Tatum got a chance to atone at the end of the second overtime, but he settled for a 3-pointer with Boston down one and his good look kicked off the back iron, allowing the Wizards to escape.
“I wish I hit that free throw,” Tatum said. “Hopefully we wouldn’t have had to go to the second overtime. I wish I hit that last shot [in the second OT], but we play again on Friday, so I’m gonna focus on that game.”
I’m here to give what I guess amounts to parenting advice even though I don’t have one iota of expertise in that area: you can be disappointed in how the Celtics gave last night’s game away, but you can’t be upset given the circumstances. One could counter with the argument that if you’re an NBA team with NBA players, you need to hold onto 20 point leads in the first half and four point leads with under a minute to go in the game– but the Celtics were playing some dudes that are barely NBA players.
The Cs should have won last night’s game, and I walked away from the Garden disappointed that the team couldn’t put a bow on what was an admirable performance. Disappointed in a Marcus Morris’ defensive lapse, disappointed that Jayson Tatum couldn’t get a free throw to go down, disappointed that Brad didn’t think to foul up three on the last possession (why does it feel like the Celtics are the only team that doesn’t do it?). But upset? Of course not. The Celtics are still firmly ensconced in the second slot in the east–though they are going to have to win a few of these to hold onto it.
If anything, last night was a pretty neat experience to watch. It allowed me to imagine, if only for a night, a new normal where Jayson Tatum was both the last name Eddie Paladino announced during the player introductions, and the last player with the ball in his hands with the game on the line– a franchise savior as a top three pick, which is usually how those guys are billed. It gave me a chance to understand what Marcus Morris can do offensively when given both the liberty and the volume needed to be a “professional scorer.” I definitely don’t want to go through this every night, but for one night, it was fun to see what these guys could do.
And so if you’re upset this morning– c’mon. It was one of eighty-two under the strangest of circumstances and it may serve to help these guys down the road.
Post-script: What an amazing quote from Marcus Morris. “So twins do dumb shit, I guess.” In other news, the Olsen twins have sued Marcus for copyright infringement.
NBCSports Boston — Depleted Boston Celtics battle Washington to double OT, but fall just short
Boston Globe — Injuries give other Celtics opportunities
On page 2, growing pains for Jayson Tatum
Stevens wasn’t concerned about the missed free throw or the jumper.
“That’s just part of the game,” Stevens said. “At the end of the day, you control what you can control. He made a great play taking it to the basket, I thought he did a lot of good things tonight. There’s no question Jayson Tatum at the free-throw line is something we all want.”
The rookie has been remarkably consistent at the line. Tatum, who has a true-shooting percentage of 58.9, is making 83.3 percent of his free throws this season. Only Kyrie Irving and Shane Larkin have higher totals this season.
Tatum made several big plays as well. He started Boston’s scoring by knifing through two defenders out of the pick-and-roll for a big one-handed dunk, and he made a series of difficult layups around the basket. Tatum’s jumper was off — he finished 9-for-23 for 19 points — but entrusted with his first game as the team’s top offensive option, Tatum showed real flashes of the player he could be down the road.
I recently finished Roland Lazenby’s book, “Showboat”, about Kobe Bryant (Please, Chuck, don’t fire me) and one part that sticks out is about how miraculously Kobe failed the Lakers against the Jazz in game five of the ’97 Western semis. It was Kobe’s rookie season, and his four airballs shot the Lakers right out of a chance to move on to the conference finals.
Considering Tatum idolizes Bryant (even if we all loathe him), it would be wise for both him and all of us to use this as some perspective. As fledgling stars become great in the NBA they take their lumps along the way. Everyone’s arc of greatness is different– for Lebron and Michael and even Kobe, it was an arc towards multiple NBA championships. For others, its an arc that ends with multiple all-star appearances, or a couple of deep playoff runs and maybe that one title, like the newly raftered number 34 in green. I have no idea what Jayson Tatum’s arc will be, but early on he certainly shows flashes of greatness. Consider last night’s performance as one of many boxes he’ll need to check on the way to a really great career. I’m glad we saw it.
The rest of the links:
NBCBoston: Morris takes on leadership role