Jayson Tatum, Celtics Speak On Late Collapse Against Nuggets

Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Celtics, NBA
Jan 10, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) and guard Jaylen Brown (7) celebrate during overtime of their 127-120 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics have been rolling through the 2023-24 NBA regular season, owning the best record in the league. However, in the last two games, they have been tripped up more than at any point in the season.

On Tuesday night, the Celtics blew a 22-point lead on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers. They had a 99.9 percent chance of winning the game in one of the worst collapses of any team this season.

On Thursday night, they had a chance to put all of that behind them, facing off against the defending NBA Champion Denver Nuggets. Unfortunately for the Celtics, they once again came up short, losing 115-109.

One of the turning points in the game came late in the fourth quarter. Celtics star Jayson Tatum had a chance to put his team ahead with 45 seconds left when he was left wide open in the corner for a 3-point attempt. But, he came up short, and the Nuggets capitalized, taking a four-point lead on their following possession.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics Updates

“That corner 3, it was a good shot,” Tatum said. “I thought it was going in. We had some opportunities.”

That is twice this week Tatum has come up short at the end of the games, which has led to at least one NBA analyst saying his bid to win the MVP this season is now over. The last two games the Celtics have played certainly have crushed those chances, not only because Boston lost but because Tatum didn’t play up to his potential.

“I think with the dynamic of our team, when other guys kind of got it going in a rhythm, in a flow … you got to space the floor,” Tatum said when asked about his performance. “We always talk about respecting other people’s space. If that calls for being in the corner or passing them the ball, that’s what we’re trying to do on that possession. You got to honor that.”

Tatum finished the game with as many turnovers as field goals made with five. With him struggling to gind a rhythm offensively, Jaylen Brown picked up the slack, scoring a game-high 41 points. But, during his post game presser, Brown took onus for the loss.

“Just too many mistakes,” Brown said. “Against a good team, we got to take advantage. Turnovers, free throws, just missing the defensive assignments, all of that stuff, we got to be better at.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics Updates

“And that starts with me, it starts at the top, starts with Jayson. … We made too many mistakes, and it cost us the game.”

This could certainly be a blip on the radar for the Celtics, a hiccup in a lengthy NBA regular season. But, when evaluating how they will fair in the postseason, some of the concerns analysts have discussed did pop up.

If one of their stars, in this case Tatum, has an off night, who will step up? Brown answered the call but Kristaps Porzingis shot 9-of-23 himself. The Celtics have arguably the best starting five in the NBA, but their depth is a concern.

Their bench provided virtually zero production, scoring only 10 points. The Nuggets got more offense from Peyton Watson alone off their bench, as he scored 11 points in 17 minutes. Christian Bruan also chipped in seven, as the entire Denver second unit finished the game with a positive plus/minus ratio, while Boston was all negative.

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