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Feb. 28, 2023

Is Tatum's Focus on Individual Achievements Hurting the Boston Celtics' Performance?

It's hard not to be disappointed in Jayson Tatum's recent performance on the court. After an impressive showing at the All-Star Game, where he earned the MVP title and set the record for most points scored in an NBA All-Star Game, Tatum has been struggling to find his footing, leaving Celtics fans wondering if he may have been focusing too much time and energy on a game that ultimately means nothing, other than a status symbol amongst the NBA Brotherhood than it does trying to lead the Boston Celtics to Banner 18.

In the Celtics' embarrassing showing against the New York Knicks, which saw the Celtics lose 109-94, Tatum's shooting woes were on full display, going 6-of-18 from the field and an abysmal 1-of-9 from beyond the arc. To make matters worse, Tatum's frustrations with the officiating resulted in his first career ejection. It's hard to imagine a player of Tatum's caliber letting his emotions get the best of him like that.

But Tatum's struggles aren't just limited to one game. He's recorded back-to-back games with fewer than 20 points, an uncommon feat for a player touted as a potential MVP candidate. Moreover, his recent performances have been lackluster, becoming increasingly concerning for Celtics fans.

Al Horford may not be worried about Tatum's recent form, but that's easy for him to say. He's not the one out there on the court, missing shots and letting his emotions get the best of him. Nevertheless, Tatum's recent slump is a cause for concern for the entire Celtics organization, and they need to figure out a way to get him back on track.

The Celtics were under a lot of pressure to perform in the game against the Knicks, especially with Jaylen Brown sidelined for personal reasons. But the team's worst shooting performance of the season, coupled with their frustrations with the officiating, resulted in a disastrous game. And Tatum's ejection was the cherry on top of an already disappointing night. And to make matters even worse, the Celtics no longer stand alone on top of the NBA standing after The Milwaukee Bucks 104-101 victory over the still-yet-to-debut Kevin Durrantless, Phonix Suns.

Coach Joe Mazzulla's comments about controlling emotions during a game are valid, but it's not just about the players. The referees are human, and their emotions can impact the game just as much as the players. So it's up to Tatum and the rest of the Celtics to find a way to overcome their frustrations and perform at a high level, even in the face of adversity. It also does not help Tatum's cause that this is a continuation of his behavior since he first entered the NBA in 2017; he believes that he is to be given the benefit of the doubt on every call, which has not helped his cause among NBA officials.

The Celtics have shown their ability to string together a run in the past, but Tatum's slump and Brown's absence proved too much to overcome in the game against the Knicks. The team must improve performance and overcome difficulties to maintain their elite status.

Ultimately, overcoming frustration is essential in elite team performance, and Tatum needs to step up and take responsibility for his recent lackluster performances. While his early-season performances were impressive, it's time for him to show up and perform like the superstar he's supposed to be. Otherwise, the Celtics may be in for a rough rest of the season.