Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum has had a rough time shooting the ball lately. Entering Wednesday night, he was 30-of-93 (32.2 percent) from 3-point land since play resumed after the All-Star break. That trend continued in the Celtics’ 104-102 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, as he went 0-of-8 from behind the arc. When you can’t get anything to go from the outside, you’re taught to get to the basket for a higher-percentage look, and Tatum did so in emphatic fashion in the middle of the third quarter. The Celtics ran a designed play to get Tatum cutting toward the basket, and Marcus Smart found him with a smooth bounce pass through traffic. All Tatum had to do at that point was catch the ball and explode to the rim. The result was one of the best dunks of the season, as Tatum put Rudy Gobert on a poster. Take a look:
The dunk alone would have made this a memorable moment, but the drama didn’t stop there. The force of the collision sent Tatum sprawling to the floor, where he landed with a thud on his side. As he tried to recover from the fall, the referees went to the monitor to review the play, which they eventually upgraded to a Flagrant 1 foul on Gobert for hitting Tatum in the face. Thankfully for Tatum, who finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds on 4-of-16 from the field, the fall looked worse than it actually was, and he was able to remain in the game. An injury to their best player would have been the last thing the Celtics need right now.
Even with the win over the Wolves, they are just 6-5 since the All-Star break. During that span they’ve blown numerous double-digit leads, including a 28-point collapse against the Brooklyn Nets, lost to the lowly Houston Rockets and have dropped to 2.5 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.