Tatum impresses C's with clutch play, 'will' to win originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Celtics were down by five with 46.9 seconds left in their Sunday night game. It looked like they were going to drop another contest against the Washington Wizards and fall two games below .500 once again.
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Then, Jayson Tatum took over the game. And somehow, he managed to carry the Celtics to a victory.
"I thought the other night, Kemba really willed us [to win]," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens after the game. "I thought tonight Jayson's will shone through."
Indeed, it did.
Tatum scored the final six points of the game for the C's to put them over the top. He relentlessly attacked the basket and forced a key turnover of Bradley Beal on the baseline to give the C's a chance to take the lead.
Those initial plays are what allowed Tatum to take (and make) the game-winning shot while twisting through the air and fighting off contact.
That play impressed everyone, including his teammates.
"It was just a crazy way to end the game," Kemba Walker said to reporters. "We had to get a basket. And JT made sure we got a basket. Like I said, he just made some tough layups. That's what great players do."
It's not just the tough baskets that Tatum is making. It's when he's making them. He has shown a knack for making clutch shots this season, including a last-second bucket just a week ago against the New Orleans Pelicans that sent the game to overtime.
But Sunday's shots were even more impressive. Why? Tatum had been coming off a couple of down games during which he looked tired. It was understandable. After all, he had played more minutes than any other NBA player did in the month of February.
What clicked in the last few minutes of the game against the Wizards that let Tatum take it to the next level?
"It was winning time," Tatum said. "We told each other we've gotta dig deep at that timeout and do whatever it takes to figure it out."
Tatum did just that. He found the energy to help the Celtics win. Without Jaylen Brown, he and Walker put the team on their backs to help them win back-to-back games for the first time in over a month.
Now, Tatum and the C's will look to continue winning and climbing back up the Eastern Conference standings. But as they do move forward, one thing is certain.
If the C's are in a close game late, you can bet your bottom dollar that the ball will be in Tatum's hands.