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NBA

Jayson Tatum: “I feel like this is the best season I’ve had”

Jayson Tatum feels confident that the Celtics can take the series down to the wire at TD Garden and decide the title at the Chase Center in Game 7.

Update:
BOSTON, MA  - JUNE 15:  Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics addresses the media during 2022 NBA Finals Practice and Media Availability on June 15, 2022  at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Noah GrahamGetty

Jayson Tatum insists that while Boston remain alive in the NBA finals, they have every chance of levelling the series at at TD Garden on Thursday to set up a decisive showdown for the title next week. The Cs have led the finals twice only to let the Warriors back into it. Golden State now lead 3-2 and Tatum knows only too well they have to win Game 6 to stay alive and take the series to a climax in San Francisco on Sunday.

It’s not a unique situation for Boston, they have been in this position before - their playoff series against the Miami Heat went to seven games and they bounced back after going 3-2 down against the Bucks to book their place in the finals.

“It ain’t over til it’s over”

“It’s not over and as long as it’s not over, you’ve got a chance. Having done it before, should give you more confidence that you can. Nothing’s going to be easy, or is going to be given to us but you should be extremely confident as long as you’ve got a chance,” he told the media ahead of the game. “My thought process is, as it was in Game 7 against the Heat, was just ‘do whatever it takes to win’. And that can look different from game to game. That’s the mindset you gotta have going into tomorrow and hopefully Game 7″.

After five games, Tatum knows enough about the Dubs to pinpoint where their weaknesses are and what areas Boston have to focus on to win the game - one of which is focusing keeping turnovers down. “From watching film, there were some frequency turnovers, some situations where we kept getting in the same spot, that were causing turnovers, so maybe we can stay away from jumping in the air, jumping up one leg and being more under control - while still playing free. We can do both,” he explained.

Comeback kings

The playoffs have shown the Celtics what they are capable of and proved that even when the chips are down, they can turn things back in their favour. Tatum is hoping for more of that attitude in Game 6. “I think just how we respond. It hasn’t been easy, it’s been extremely tough,” he continued. “We’ve had some tough losses - losing Game 5 against Milwaukee was extremely tough. Just knowing that we had to win to go on the road and loing Game 6 against the Heat was extremely tough. But in those moments, we just responded. I don’t know exactly what it is but I think it’s just our will to want to win - just trying to figure it out”.

On a personal level, the finals have been a positive experience for Tatum who has been shooting 37.3 percent from the floor overall and chipping in with an average of seven assists per game. “I’ve been better than in recent years defensively, and I feel like this is the best season I’ve had. I go from not making All-NBA to being First Team, so there was some growth there,” he concluded.