The 2022 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors is now a best-of-three series. Both teams have taken turns looking more superior than the other, and it has set up what should be a thrilling finish to the 2021-22 NBA season.
The way the two teams have dominated has been vastly different, however. For the Warriors, it's been Steph Curry leading the way, and without his 43-point outburst in Game 4, Golden State is probably heading home down 3-1 in the series. On the other hand, the Celtics haven't had a true standout performer through the first four games and have typically looked to be at their best when they are spreading the ball around, and everyone is knocking down shots.
The Boston Celtics aren't getting enough out of Jayson Tatum
Part of the reason that's been the case is that the Celtics' best scorer, Jayson Tatum, has been quite awful at scoring to start this series. Much has been made of Tatum's improvements throughout the first four games of the Finals, but his lack of scoring efficiency is becoming a real issue for the C's.
Through four games, Tatum is shooting just 34 percent from the field, which is, to put it bluntly, horrible for a player of his caliber. Tatum has been tasked with carrying Boston's offense when it goes cold for most of the postseason. The script has completely flipped now, as Tatum's teammates are trying to figure out ways to compensate for Tatum's lack of scoring against a stingy Warriors defense.
Even more surprising here are the shots Tatum is missing. He's shooting 42.5 percent on threes, and when you see that, you would think Tatum is putting together one of the best playoff series of his young career. Then you see he is shooting 27.5 percent on two-point shots. That is a horrific number and is the main reason Tatum has not been himself so far against the Warriors.
It's beginning to come to the point where Tatum is averaging nearly the same number of points per game (22.3) as he is shots per game (20.5). Tatum has been ice-cold once he steps inside the three-point line against Golden State, and he's running out of time to figure things out.
Jayson Tatum's two-point shooting woes make very little sense
Tatum's sudden inability to hit layups and his patented mid-range jumpers is mind-boggling. Tatum is the guy who helped guide Boston past the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat in the two previous rounds, and they are two of the toughest teams to score against inside the three-point line. The Warriors' top two interior defenders, Kevon Looney and Draymond Green, are a far cry from what Tatum has overcome in these playoffs so far.
Tatum's mid-range shot coming and going happens, but the actual area for concern is his paint scoring. He's missed several layups that we have become accustomed to seeing him hit throughout these playoffs. Even in Game 4, if Tatum makes a couple of the easy layups that he missed, Boston could very well be up in this series 3-1.
The only encouraging thing is that it isn't because of a lack of effort on Tatum's end. Tatum can take advantage of many of the matchups he finds himself against on offense, and he has been doing just that. The problem is he hasn't been able to convert when he takes his shots.
That will have to change for the Celtics if they want to win this series. They won Game 3 primarily because they could constantly get to the paint and score over Golden State's small-ball lineups. Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart are still getting their buckets in the paint with relative ease, but Tatum isn't following suit. And if he can't change that, Boston's fairy-tale run this season will soon have a rather unfulfilling ending.