Celtics Postgame Live

Eddie House: Jayson Tatum looks like a man on a mission for Celtics

"It's a different talk than I've heard before."

NBC Universal, Inc.

Boston Celtics fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when Jayson Tatum appeared to avoid a serious ankle injury Monday night in Miami.

But if you ask Eddie House, Celtics fans should also be encouraged, because Tatum flashed a different side of himself following the incident.

With just over five minutes remaining in Game 4 and the Celtics up 13 on the Heat, Tatum hoisted a dead-ball 3-point attempt after Heat guard Patty Mills was whistled for a foul on Boston's Derrick White. Miami big man Bam Adebayo contested Tatum's post-whistle shot and landed in Tatum's airspace, causing Tatum's left foot to land on Adebayo's right foot and twist awkwardly.

Tatum addressed the incident rather tersely in his 1-on-1 with NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin after Boston's 102-88 win.

"I'm fine, I'm good," Tatum replied when asked about his ankle. "I wasn't worried about it -- move on to the next play, we still had a game to win."

Tatum and Adebayo are close friends who played AAU basketball together growing up and were in the same draft class. But the Celtics star had no interest in discussing their relationship or dwelling on the play, and clearly was focused on keeping it moving.

House, who was a member of the last Celtics team to win an NBA title in 2008, loved Tatum's postgame approach and how it proved the All-Star has a singular focus this postseason.

"You know what I took from that? It's that (Tatum) is like, 'I don't care, we are just trying to win,'" House said of Tatum's postgame comments, as seen in the video player above. "I know Bam and Jayson played on the same AAU team, so they've known each other for a long time -- they love each other, they are brothers off the court -- but it's about getting this W and moving forward. The bigger goal is the championship -- hoisting that Larry O'Brien Trophy, putting the gold up in the air."

While Tatum is ultra-competitive, he doesn't always show it publicly and often will socialize with opposing players after games. But this postseason, House sees a man on a mission.

"I like to hear Jayson Tatum talking like that, because it's a different talk than I've heard before," House said. "It sounds more focused. It sounds locked in to the task, and that's the Jayson Tatum that I think everybody has been clamoring for.

"Everybody's been saying, 'Hey, man, we want him to be locked in like this,' and it feels like to me with that statement, it's all business -- all gas, no brakes from this point forward."

Tatum played with an extra edge Monday in Miami; he had a relatively quiet scoring night (20 points on 5 of 14 shooting) but threw down a massive dunk on Caleb Martin in the fourth quarter and appeared to stare down the Heat forward, who knocked him to the floor with a hard foul in Game 1.

The Celtics will be tested going forward if big man Kristaps Porzingis misses significant time due to the calf injury he suffered Monday night. But if we're going to see this version of Tatum throughout the playoffs, Porzingis' absence may not matter.

Contact Us