In the 2022 NBA Finals, Jayson Tatum will have to step up if his team wants to win. As the team's leading scorer and offensive leader, Tatum is sort of the driving force of the Celtics and he hasn't played particularly well in the series so far.
Ahead of Game 5 on Monday, Kendrick Perkins called out Tatum and revealed how he can bring out the best of himself for this pivotal game:
"I evaluate him. I don't just watch him on the floor. I'm watching his post-game interviews. And right now and all he keeps saying is he's not trying to take it for granted about being in the Finals. Well, guess what? You're 4 games in. At this point, it's strictly basketball and who wants it the most. I don't wanna hear about nobody making the right passes< i don't wanna hear about you having assists. Find a way to get it done. He keep remembering Kobe Bryant, Kobe Bryant had a mentality (I've played against him a few times in the Finals) of he's going to do it himself and that's the mentality Jayson Tatum has to have!"
On one hand, making the Finals is not easy, and getting there should be celebrated as a major accomplishment. Good on Tatum for knowing the reality of the moment and taking a minute to appreciate it.
But at this point, with the series nearing its end, Tatum has to put those thoughts behind him and just play his game. It's up to him to make that happen.
If not, it could cost his team the series. Either way, the path to ultimate victory likely involves a win tonight and it will be interesting to see how Tatum (and his Celtics) respond.