Hosting the defending champs on Monday night, the Celtics were on a three-game losing streak, but they had something else going for them: Jayson Tatum’s recent hot streak.
The 6-foot-8-inch forward exploded for a season-high 42 points, 16 of which came in the fourth quarter when he froze the game and led Boston to a 117-102 victory. Of the remaining 31 points, he scored 21 in the middle two quarters as Boston took control of the game by beating Milwaukee 20 (64-44).
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Tatum’s points count was the highest in the game and his impact was demonstrated with his over-under of +21 in 38 minutes of action. Along with his 42, he also had five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
This is the eighth 40-point game of his career, tying him with Tom Heinsohn for the fourth highest in franchise history.
Jayson Tatum tonight:
It’s his eighth 40-point game, tying Paul Pierce for the most by a Celtic before he turned 24. pic.twitter.com/f6Uc2XMXjq
– StatMuse (@statmuse) December 14, 2023
On the way to 42, Tatum hit seven 3s, which is also his season high and just one less than his career high. Efficiency has to be the most enjoyable conclusion to this game for Tatum, the Celtics, and their fans.
In a season in which the All-Star is shooting career lows from the field (42.3 percent) and beyond the arc (33.9 percent), he scored 42 on 64.0 percent shooting from the field and 53.8 percent from 3-point range (7-13).
A big reason for his efficiency in this game was his shot selection. Take a look at the few mid-range shots Tatum attempted while making a spectacular 8 of 9 in paint.
This blast against the defending champs is part of Tatum’s red-hot December, where he leads the league in total points, with 223 from seven games. Trae Young, the player second behind Tatum, is up 39 points after playing one game less.
During this stretch, the Celtics wing has recorded three 30-point games (at Lakers, at Trail Blazers, at Jazz). For the season, he’s logged 11 30-point games, which is tied for most in the league (as of Monday, December 13) with Young and Kevin Durant.