Tatum takes down Bucks, Greek Freak in opener
BOSTON – Jayson Tatum wasn’t the Boston Celtics’ top scorer in their season-opening win over Milwaukee.
That was Jaylen Brown.
He didn’t lead the team in rebounds, assists or any statistic of substance.
Tatum’s only redeeming accomplishment for the game was the 3-point dagger he drained over Giannis Antetokounmpo which left the Greek Freak and his Milwaukee minions with 0.4 seconds to play.
To the Bucks credit, they had a chance to force overtime only for the two-time league MVP to come up short – literally – at the free throw line which led to the ball ricocheting off a few hands as time expired.
That will be what’s talked about by most.
But the truth is, Wednesday’s game would be Jayson Tatum’s opening salvo in his fight to be what he has always wanted to be – the best in the game.
Tatum, who finished with 30 points on 12-for-28 shooting from the field, has never been shy about letting it be known his goals of becoming basketball royalty.
He took a key step last season when he was named to his first All-Star team.
Wednesday was another significant milestone for the 22-year-old.
Because no matter how you want to look at it, his goal of being the league’s best will in some way, shape or form involving going through the Greek Freak who led the way for the Bucks with 35 points and 13 rebounds while turning the ball over a game-high seven times.
And in that final moment, with the ball in hand while Antetokounmpo was defending him, Tatum had his chance.
He could have easily looked off the Greek Freak to find another teammate with an easier matchup.
No one would have faulted him if he looked to get the ball to Brown who led all players with 33 points.
This was the moment that Tatum was built for; a moment forged by the mental and physical challenges he endured growing up in St. Louis while playing at the rough-and-tumble Wohl Center; or the disappointment he has endured with more playoff losses than he would like to remember.
There was no way he was passing up this moment to do what he was seemingly built and conditioned to do: deliver when his team needed him most.
I asked Jaylen Brown after the game about Tatum’s shot.
“Them the type of shots that we trust JT (Jayson Tatum) with, that he looks forward to,” Brown said. “I don’t know if he called glass but I’ll take it.”