Celtics’ Jayson Tatum blasted by Bill Simmons after Game 2 loss vs. Cavaliers

Tony Nguyen | Boston Celtics
May 10, 2024

For the second straight series, the Boston Celtics have dropped game two at home as massive favorites. The Celtics cruised to a win in game one of their current series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they ended up getting blown out of the water in game two. Boston got out to an early nine-point lead in the first quarter, but the Cavaliers ended up dominating the second half to come away with a 118-94 win. The series is now tied at one.

Jayson Tatum is one of the most important players on this Celtics team, but he has been receiving some backlash during these playoffs because of his scoring. On Thursday night, he finished the game with 25 points on 7/17 shooting. He was 2/5 from deep. That is 40% from three, but Bill Simmons has not been impressed by his overall ability to shoot the deep ball.

“He was the 79th best 3 point shooter this season at 37.9%, last year he was 113th at 35%,” Bill Simmons said on The Bill Simmons Podcast. “In the 2023 playoffs he was 76th at 32.3%. There’s this feeling that Jayson Tatum is this lights out 3-point shooter who can hit all these crazy step-backs and there’s no statistical evidence for it, and I’m tired of watching it. I feel like when I watch him compared to, and I voted for Tatum for first team All NBA, and I can’t remember if I had him 4th or 5th for MVP, when I watch some of these other scorers like SGA, like Luka, like Jokic, how he can can get to the spots that he wants unless he’s going against the Minnesota Pit-bulls, like Brunson, like Donovan Mitchell tonight, like Ant Edwards this whole playoffs, Tatum just seems a level below as a scorer.”

Seeing 25 points in the box score doesn’t stand out as a bad game, but Jayson Tatum is supposed to be one of the top players in the NBA, and like Simmons said, he isn’t having games like some of these other players are in the playoffs. Jalen Brunson is consistently scoring 30-40 points right now. Even when he missed a good chunk of game two he still came back and finished with 29 points. The Celtics need stuff like that from Tatum.

Stephen A. Smith hasn’t been impressed with Jayson Tatum

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) drives to the basket against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second half during game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at TD Garden.
© David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not just Bill Simmons that has been disappointed with the play of Jayson Tatum. It’s a lot of people, and Stephen A. Smith is one of them as well. Tatum just hasn’t been playing his best basketball during the playoffs so far, and the Celtics are going to need him to step up at some point.

“These numbers that I’m seeing from him are the worst that we’ve seen from him in the postseason since 2019,” Stephen A. Smith said during First Take.

The Celtics were fine against the Miami Heat and they might be able to get past the Cavaliers with Tatum in a slump, but it will be a disappointment if they don’t win it all. If Tatum keeps playing like this, it’s going to very difficult for them to achieve that ultimate goal. He is going to have to step up soon.