Celtics Notes: Tatum, Horford, Stoudamire

Coming off another poor shooting night, Jayson Tatum understands that he needs to improve for the Celtics to win the NBA title, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Tatum was 8-of-23 in the Game 4 loss and is shooting just 34% in the Finals.

“I give [the Warriors] credit,” he said. “They’re a great team. They’re playing well. They got a game plan, things like that. But it’s on me. I got to be better. I know I’m impacting the game in other ways, but I got to be more efficient, shoot the ball better, finish at the rim better. I take accountability for that.”

Tatum has been more effective as a passer than a shooter in the series, but Bontemps points out that he has 22 assists and four turnovers in Boston’s two wins, with nine assists and 10 turnovers in the two losses. Coach Ime Udoka believes Tatum is too focused on drawing fouls rather than trying to make his shots when there’s contact.

“At times he’s looking for fouls,” Udoka said. “They are a team that loads up in certain games. He’s finding the outlets. Shooting over two, three guys. That’s the balance of being aggressive and picking your spots and doing what he’s done in previous games, which is kicked it out and got wide-open looks. That’s the ongoing theme, so to speak. Him getting to the basket, being a scorer as well as a playmaker. They do a good job with their rotations. Sometimes hunting fouls instead of going to finish. I’ve seen that in a few games so far.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Boston has been mentioned in trade rumors involving numerous stars in recent years, but most of those deals fell through and the Celtics were forced to build through the draft rather than trying to form a super team, notes Sopan Deb of The New York Times. As a result, they have a young roster that looks like it can be a title contender for a long time.
  • At 36, Al Horford has adopted an elder statesman role and he’s excited to see his younger teammates succeed, per Tania Ganguli of The New York Times. “They’re different, they’ve grown, they’re much better,” Horford said. “This is kind of their team. This is kind of their time, you know? And I’m just happy to be a part of it now.”
  • Celtics assistant coach Damon Stoudamire wants the team to take inspiration from a tough loss he had with the Trail Blazers 22 years ago, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Portland led the Lakers by 13 points in the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the conference finals, but the game slipped away and Stoudamire never reached the NBA Finals as a player. “This group will never get this moment back,” he said of the current Celtics team. “That’s the way I look at it. But if we win together, we’ll be entrenched together. Our group texts now as a staff, as a team, it’ll be the group texts forever. We’ll share moments as a family because we won together. That, to me, is what this is all about.”
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