When the Boston Celtics left the court at home on January 21 after a loss to Portland, they sat at 23-24, clinging to the 10th seed in the East. Just two months later, thanks in large part to an MVP caliber effort by Jayson Tatum, the Celtics are the hottest team in the league, having doubled their won total while losing just five games since (23-4). At 46-28, they’re now 4th in the East, just 1.5 games out of the top spot in the conference.
Tatum dropped 51 points in a win over the Wizards in Washington on January 23, one of two 50-point games he’s had in the last two months. Over that 27-game span, the Bradley Beal Elite alum is averaging 29.7 points per game, which would rank third in the league. As it stands, he’s moved up to eighth in scoring (27 ppg) and is also averaging a career-high 8.1 rebounds per game and matching a career-high at 4.3 assists per game.
“He’s getting the matchups he wants and getting to the spots he wants, and getting the shots he wants,” Ime Udoka said. “That’s a huge luxury to have when you have a guy who can do that. But the guys are feeding off him as well.”
During a two-game span in February, he had 38 points and 10 rebounds in a win over Atlanta, then went off for 28 and 12 in a 49-point beatdown of the 76ers in Philadelphia. A few weeks later, during the first week in March, he averaged over 41 points per game in wins over Atlanta, Memphis and Brooklyn. The Brooklyn game in particular was a jaw-dropping effort as Tatum dueled with and outplayed Kevin Durant, scoring 54 points, while shooting 16-of-30 from the field and 8-of-15 from deep.
The next day, he was chosen as Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the sixth time in his career and the second time this season. Tatum’s stats for the entire month of March have been off the charts and he’s well on his way to his second Player of the Month award.
Jayson Tatum in March:
45.5 3P% on 9.9 attempts
He leads the league in points and threes per game this month. pic.twitter.com/xl5g7SqDyz
— StatMuse (@statmuse) March 22, 2022
Meanwhile, Boston has gone from the fringes of the play-in tournament to the team no one wants to see in the postseason with the potential to make a deep playoff run and perhaps even reach The Finals for the first time in Tatum’s career. Boston has twice reached the Eastern Conference Finals over Tatum’s first four seasons, but a Finals trip has eluded them.
“Jayson Tatum is playing at an MVP level,” Celtics legend Paul Pierce said recently. “The Celtics are playing their best basketball right now. They continue to play like this, I can see them in the eastern conference finals and possibly the Finals.”