The NBA In-Season Tournament was designed to make regular season games mean more, and it sounds like it had the desired effect on Jayson Tatum.
Tatum's Boston Celtics fell to the Indiana Pacers 122-112 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Monday night in the IST quarterfinals. Instead of heading to Las Vegas for the IST semifinals on Thursday and a potential IST championship game on Saturday, the Celtics will stay home in Boston and play the loser of Tuesday's other Eastern Conference quarterfinal matchup -- Milwaukee Bucks vs. New York Knicks -- on Friday.
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Your thoughts on that outcome, Jayson?
"I wanted to f---ing go to Vegas,” Tatum said after the game. "I didn't want to go home. I wanted to go to Vegas. So yeah, I’m mad. Next year, I guess."
The silver lining for Boston is that its travel schedule got a whole lot easier; instead of flying across the country to Vegas, the Celtics will be home for nearly two full weeks, with a five-game homestand from Friday to next Sunday, Dec. 17.
While the C's missed out on the first-ever NBA Cup and $500,000 bonuses for each player, they still lead the East at 15-5 and have their eyes on the bigger prize of an NBA championship. Celtics star Jaylen Brown was similarly upset by Monday's result but joked the team will have to make alternate plans.
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"It’s unfortunate for us we’re not going to Vegas but I guess we’ll have to settle for Encore in Boston," Brown told reporters.
The Celtics missed a golden opportunity to play on the national stage, committing 18 turnovers against a hard-playing Pacers team that seemed more eager to punch its ticket to Vegas. But if Tatum and his teammates can channel their frustration into more inspired play -- especially next weekend in a back-to-back against the upstart
Orlando Magic -- that will be a win for Boston in the long run.