“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
That famous quote served as the primary motto for Jayson Tatum as he carried the Boston Celtics to a few more days of season survival after a heroic late game eruption in Game 6 of their Conference Semis war with the Philadelphia 76ers.
After registering a historic 1-of-14 nightmarish shooting for the first three quarters of the pivotal match, Tatum rose from the ashes and torched Phila with 16 fourth-quarter points.
With the 76ers leading 83-81 under five minutes left, he knocked down four huge treys, including a back-to-back in the last four-minute mark to lift the C’s with a huge momentum and eventually close out a 95-86 marvelous Thursday win.
“Humbly, I’m one of the best basketball players in the world,” Tatum told ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth in postgame with regards to his clutch turnaround. “Go through struggles, go through slumps. It’s a long game, and thankfully I got some great teammates that held it down.”
Tatum can only truly express that appreciation to his teammates for carrying the main offensive load of Boston prior to his awakening in the endgame.
Marcus Smart assumed the top scoring for the Celtics with 22 points while accompanying it with seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Jaylen Brown, for his part, got 17 markers and six boards.
Sixth Man award winner Malcolm Brogdon also came up huge with 16 points and 6 boards off the bench, while Rob Williams III, who was inserted by coach Joe Mazzulla to start in place of Derrick White, got a productive 10 points, nine boards and two blocks.
“They all trusting me. They tell me ‘Keep taking great looks, it’s gonna fall’, ‘Keep impacting the game in other ways’ and all that mattered was we won this game,” he said.
“[We] give ourselves another chance to come back home for a Game 7.”
With the win, both Celtics and the 76ers will return to Boston for their series finale on Sunday.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, Sunday will mark the eight-time that Boston and Philadelphia will head to a Game 7 – the most meetings between franchises in a Game 7 in NBA history.
As such, Tatum and the co. got that significant familiarity on these kinds of scenarios, as they notably had to go through two Game 7s in their last year’s Finals run, outlasting both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat.
“It’s Game 7. Don’t get any better than that,” Tatum concluded.