Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum can carry the C’s to the Finals

NBA Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
NBA Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

If the new-wave Jayson Tatum sticks, there’s no question that he’s good enough to carry the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals

The Boston Celtics entered the month of February with more questions than answers. They had gone 9-7 during the month of January, roughly doubling their losses from the first two and a half months of the season.

Was it just a rough month, or was it a sign of things to come as the team approached the second half of the season?

With the Toronto Raptors rising as the clear second-best team in the Eastern Conference and the Miami Heat closing in on Boston’s tail, the Celtics were quickly losing ground in the standings and burning through the great start to the year. Specifically, the Celtics lost ground on the offensive end.

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While of that could be attributed to injury, there were legit concerns revolving around whether the Celtics could be true contenders without a consistent offense. During the first two and a half months of the season, the Celtics had the NBA’s fifth-best offense in terms of offensive rating. In the month of January, Boston dropped to 14th.

However, over the last month, the Celtics have reemerged as one of the best teams in the NBA. Over the last month, the Celtics have the third-best record in the NBA, at 10-4, a top 10 offense, defense, and net rating.

The biggest difference in the team’s recent turnaround? Jayson Tatum.

Over the last month, Tatum has been a different player. During his last 13 games (February and March), Tatum is averaging 31 points and eight rebounds per game on 50 percent shooting from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range.

To put those numbers in perspective, Tatum averaged 21 points per game through the month of January, shooting 37 percent from the field in October, 42 percent in November, 44 percent in December, and 47 percent in January.

The first thing that pops off the screen is the huge uptick in points per game. While Tatum has been a bit more aggressive in the last month, it’s the efficiency that has really changed the math for the Celtics.

Tatum’s overall field goal percentage has improved every month this season, cultivating in a February to remember. Though, that should be considered a great sign for the Celtics. The fact that the last month wasn’t just a random hot streak should be reassuring.

Tatum has been improving every month, so it wouldn’t be outlandish to say that he can’t keep this level of play up. If there’s going to be a regression to the mean, at this point, you’d have to expect it to come at the 3-point line.

It would be unfair to expect Tatum to continue to shoot 48 percent from deep for the remainder of the season. However, a more aggressive and efficient Tatum absolutely changes the ceiling for the Celtics this season. There’s no question about that.

So much so, it could lead to a conversation about whether or not the Celtics could challenge the Milwaukee Bucks to come out of the East. With one of the best offenses and defenses and one of the best game-planning coaches (Brad Stevens) in the NBA, the Boston Celtics should be considered a threat to make it to the NBA Finals.

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And if Jayson Tatum continues at this absurd pace, all bets are off.