NBA Finals 2022: Grading Jayson Tatum’s Game 2 performance
Boston's star forward Jayson Tatum led his team with 28 points, with 21 them coming in the first half. He added six rebounds, three assists and one steal, but he also accounted for four turnovers on the night.
On Monday, the "First Things First" crew broke down what went wrong for the Celtics in Game 2 while handing out grades for Tatum's performance. NBA analyst Chris Broussard, fresh off giving Tatum a "C" in Game 1, graded the Celtics star with a "B-minus" this time around, pointing out that Tatum improved from the opening game of the series and that his teammates played an even larger part in Boston's loss.
"[The Celtics] were within two (points) at halftime. Why? Because he had 21 points, and those 21 points helped them withstand their 11 turnovers," he said. "Some of them his — he had four, I'll give you that. But without his 21 (points), it would’ve been over at halftime. So, I'll give him credit for that. …
"Look at Marcus Smart — 1-for-6, five turnovers, two points. Al Horford, everybody was praising Al after Game 1. He goes from 26 points to two, and you're saying nothing about Al Horford? Jaylen Brown goes 5-for-17, so look at them. Jayson was not your problem, it was these other guys."
Three of the Celtics' starters — Smart (1-for-6), Horford (1-for-4) and Robert Williams (1-for-1) — finished with two points apiece in Game 2. Brown put up 17 points while going 3-for-9 from downtown.
On the other side, Broussard's cohost Nick Wright graded Tatum more harshly because of the 19-point loss.
"Tatum's the guy who was the leader of a group project that failed, but everyone else in the group project was standing outside the classroom vaping while he was trying to present," Wright said. "Tatum didn't play great, but the rest of the rotation was an outright disaster. … Tatum was fine. He was too loose from the ball. He obviously was not good from 2 when he was exceptional from 3. His team got blown out, so he gets a ‘C.’"
"The other thing is … when the team gets blown out, the star player's plus-minus is always going to be disastrous because he's the last guy that the coach finally folds his hand on and is like, ‘OK, he’s not gonna play anymore either,'" Wright added.
However, it was Kevin Wildes who handed down the toughest grade — a "D-plus."
"I know he had 28 points because he got hot from 3, but 35 points was easily on the board," Wildes said. "He went 2-for-10 from 2s. He did have 28 points on the stat sheet, but two of those turnovers that he had immediately led to Stephen [Curry] 3s, so I'm minusing six points, which brings us down to 22 (points).
"Here's my biggest issue. Tatum is first-team All-NBA. … I hold Jayson Tatum to a high standard. I'm not buying, ‘Well, you know what? He did his part. Maybe Al Horford, who is 36 years old, maybe he should score a point.’ Man, that's not how it works. If you're a superstar, and you're first-team All-NBA, you can't be getting blown out. … Figure out a way to stop the bleeding. It's what superstars do."
Tatum & Co. will have a chance to bounce back when the series heads to Boston for Game 3 on Wednesday.