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Jayson Tatum and the Celtics show the prince and princess why they are NBA royalty

Jayson Tatum and the Celtics show the prince and princess why they are NBA royalty

BOSTON — Sandcastles eventually fall into the sea.

The Celtics The offense has been on a roll lately, blowing out anyone who stands in its way. Therefore, if Miami Heat came to town Wednesday for a rematch of the conference finals, and Boston jumped out to a 14-2 lead in just two minutes, no one was shocked. That’s what Boston does.

But after some brilliant plays from Bam Adebayo and a Kyle Lowry 3, Heath’s sudden victory. No one was shocked. That’s what Miami does.

Everyone was thrilled to have the Prince and Princess of Wales sitting courtside, except for the Celtics.

The Monarchs have witnessed a basketball royal’s career, and two perennial contenders have conquered it. The Heat have not been themselves this year. Jimmy Butler was out. It didn’t matter. It was a big game and they were going to play like giants no matter who was there.

Every time the Celtics built a lead, the Heat pulled away. But Jason Tatum followed them. He’ll wait until he needs to step in and then come over. An eight point lead down to two? Bury a couple of 3s.

Every game, every run, is a new beginning to build on. That’s a lesson Joe Mazzula imparts to his team every day. That’s why Tatum said when they sit down for a film session, Mazzula shows them a picture of a sandcastle.

“You build the best sandcastle on vacation, and when the tide comes in, it’s going to wash it away,” Tatum said after dropping 49 points in a 134-121 win over the Heat. “Basically, today was a good game, we won. But if we go to shoot tomorrow or Friday, we have to build another sandcastle. And it’s a little cheesy, but it’s what we believed.”

The buy-in is clear, and that’s why Mazzula trusts Tatum to know when it’s time to lead the team out of the ditch. His trust in Tatum is statistically immeasurable.

“A thousand percent,” Mazula said. “He just makes the right play. So he does a great job of reading stuff, knowing how the defense is guarding him. Is it pressured? Do they give him a step? So he’s making the right play for himself and for his teammates.”

Sometimes it seems like everything is just falling into place for his superstardom. Sometimes Tatum has a magic touch, or loose balls just bounce right into a teammate’s hands as he takes off in a sprint. But they create their luck with good habits, and Tatum’s habits round out to put him in a better position almost the entire game.

“I don’t really believe in luck,” Mazzula said. “I believe in spacing, ball movement and proper play.”


Prince William and Princess Catherine, center, sat outside the court on Wednesday. (David Butler II/USA Today)

Tatum’s teammates are impressed. They’re used to what he does, but that doesn’t make him any easier to understand. For Malcolm Brogdonwho has only seen glimpses of what goes against Tatum over the years, it will take time to get used to what Tatum does every night.

“It’s okay. It’s unbelievable,” Brogdon said. “To play the way he did last year, to be in the MVP race at times last year, and then to make the leap he did this year was pretty incredible to watch. But there’s no doubt he should be leading the MVP race right now.”

This game really had it all, starting with Tatum starting to play in the first quarter and never letting up Luca Cornet challenging the immortal Udonis Haslemthree-pointer from 20 feet in front of British royalty. It was a game full of everything you’d expect and pure randomness at the same time.

Jaylen Brown called it a weird play because Miami was in the zone most of the time and Boston had to keep figuring out how to sneak up the middle and get it to cutters or shooters moving to the elbows while the defense was bent. On a night when Brown was recovering from what he described as a whiplash injury that left his neck locked up for days, Tatum played nearly 40 minutes at a breakneck pace because that’s exactly what the team needs from him.

“Jason found a lot of those gaps and was able to be aggressive and make a lot of plays for us,” Brown said. “On a night like this, you just have to keep finding it or the ball will find itself. And he turned off the light.”

He plays like a superhero, so it was only fitting that a new Tatum action figure was just released. Tatum said it came in the mail the other day and he gave it to his son, Deuce, who just put it in his room with the rest of his dad’s memorabilia. It’s surreal for Tatum, who put in 24 years of work to get this mini-facsimile. But that’s just life for his kid.

“He screwed up,” Tatum smiled. “He’s used to seeing his dad on TV, at Taustagolovy’s, in advertisements and toys. So he just said, ‘Thank you,’ and put it in with the rest.”

It’s easy for the 2’s and the Celtics to be spoiled by Tatum’s exploits. He rarely has a bad night today. It was the second time in November that he had four consecutive 30-point games.

He’s up to 31.6 points per game on the season by rebounding Steph Curry, Janice Antecumba and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander all in one night to land second behind Luka Doncic. Deuce’s father does great things every night. That’s why Brogdon is still excited. This is why Matsula trusts him on paradoxical levels. That’s why the Celtics have lost just once in their last 15 games.

Butler is expected to return for Friday’s rematch. As the Celtics wrap up their conference finals mini-run, they look like they’ve only gotten better since barely surviving the last game.

The prince and princess will be gone for a long time, but there will be even more of them NBA royalty is going for it that night. Boston already knows they’re a great team. But by then, the answer should be 1,000 percent clear.

Another day, another castle.

(Top photo of Jayson Tatum: David Butler II / USA Today)





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