5 takeaways from Game 6


Tatum scored 46 points and out-dueled perhaps the NBA’s best player.

Celtics Bucks Game 6
Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics is defended by Bobby Portis of the Milwaukee Bucks during the second quarter in Game Six. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Every great player has a few legacy games, and before Game 6 on Friday, Jayson Tatum had a couple that nearly qualified.

There was the time he scored 50 points in the play-in game, but that season was doomed by the time the play-in game rolled around. There was the valiant 50-point effort against the Nets that followed a few weeks later, but the Nets won that series handily, which erased the memory of it. There was the Dunk-On-LeBron game, but the Cavaliers won.

Friday’s game was a no-doubter. Facing elimination at the hands of perhaps the greatest basketball player on the planet, Tatum squared up with Giannis Antetokounmpo and won — a blistering 46-point performance that lifted the Celtics to a 108-95 victory and sent the series back to Boston for a decisive Game 7.

Tatum made seven 3-pointers, but he scored in a variety of ways — 10 of his field goals were twos, and he had several aggressive drives into the paint that set up the rest of his offense.

Meanwhile, he dished out four assists as well when the Bucks collapsed on him. Increasingly, the Celtics are figuring out how to free him when necessary, but he did fine even in isolation on Friday.

Antetokounmpo was great too — 44 points on 30 shots — but the Celtics held serve, and Tatum had an answer for every run.

Savor this moment, if you’re a Celtics fan. Not every franchise gets to watch a top-10 NBA player on a night basis. Even fewer get to watch a homegrown star face off against perhaps the NBA’s best player and rise above the moment in the team’s biggest game of the year.

The Celtics are still alive thanks to their superstar.

More takeaways

2. Once again, Derrick White put together a nice, comfortable game — particularly in the second quarter as the Celtics tried to build a little bit of a lead. White’s defensive prowess combined with his ability to attack the rim puts a lot of pressure on the Bucks, who are focused on preventing other players from reaching the rim. White is often secondary to their defensive schemes, so his baskets around the rim are crucial.

White finished with nine points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

3. After being criticized heavily for his play in Game 5, Marcus Smart put together a tidy, impressive Game 6 — 21 points on 8-for-16 shooting, 5-for-9 from three to go with seven assists.

However you feel about Smart after Wednesday’s debacle, Game 6 might make you feel a little better.

4. The Celtics may have found something that really works against the Bucks in their three(ish)-guard lineup: Tatum, White, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart plus a big man. That group stretches the Bucks out and keeps one good Antetokounmpo defender on the floor. Even if Antetokounmpo goes off (and he certainly did in Game 6), the additional spacing pays major dividends.

5. The Celtics are now rewarded for winning their last game of the regular season: In doing so, they clinched home-court advantage in Game 7 against a Bucks team that opted to rest and avoid facing the Nets in the first round. The Celtics swept the Nets and now will face the Bucks in a do-or-die at a raucous TD Garden.

This is going to be fun. It starts at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.

We will have more takeaways later this evening.

Source : https://www.boston.com/sports/boston-celtics/2022/05/13/jayson-tatum-celtics-bucks-game-6/

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