His game 1 finish was a different story.
Tatum scored a layup at buzzer on Marcus Smart's pass to give Boston a thrilling 115-114 win over Brooklyn Nets in Sunday's Game 1 of their first round playoff series.
"When he took that step, we kind of made eye contact. Tatum stated that he made a great pass. It doesn't get much better than this. It's a buzzer-beater at home in a playoff match.
Tatum scored 31 points. The last two were on the first buzzer beater of his career. This was Boston's first postseason win since Paul Pierce's 2010 victory against the Heat.
Tatum's bucket was made after a poised Boston possession during the final seconds. Kevin Durant missed the other end. Boston recovered and raced up to the court, choosing not to call timeout.
Jaylen Brown dribbled towards the middle and hit Smart with the ball. He fired it at Tatum who cut it and spun around to drop in his layup right before the time expired.
Smart stated, "I have always been told that you have more time than what you think you do." "I was going to throw it to Al Horford off the dribble, but I saw JT cut at last minute."
All five Celtics touched it on possession.
Coach Ime Udoka stated, "I think that's kinda a microcosm of our season guys moving the ball being selfish,"
Brown scored 23 points for the Celtics who will host Game 2 on Wednesday. Smart had 20 points and 15 boards, while Horford finished with 20. Smart was also a good scorer, scoring 20 points including four 3-pointers.
Kyrie Irving ended the game with 39 points, 18 of which came in the fourth quarter. The Celtics took the ball from him the last time Brooklyn had it. Durant missed a jumper with just one point to give the Celtics their final possession.
Durant scored 23 points, but only 9 of his 24 shots were successful.
They did a great job forcing me to leave and then helping with the paint. He said that I had to become more fundamental in my movements. "I feel like some shots went out for me."
Boston surged out of halftime on a 23-8 run. This was aided by Smart's outstanding shooting from beyond the arc.
The Celtics seemed to have a different approach to protecting Durant in the half court. They fronted him and sent help to the top to limit his driving abilities.
Durant and Irving were still able to score, but they needed to work harder.
It didn't work.
Boston led early in the fourth. Irving brought Brooklyn back into the game with two straight 3-pointers, and a layup that reduced Boston's lead to 98-97. Durant calmly scored a 3, after a quiet trip by Boston, which saw Horford and Brown fail to convert from close.
Brooklyn's lead was 107 to102 after Durant was fouled with a jumper. Brown was able to find space on the Celtics next possession and hit a 3-pointer from the wing. Durant was called for an offensive foul by the Nets, which resulted in them turning it over to Brown. Smart then moved underneath Irving on Boston’s ensuring trip, and tied the game.
Brown tied the game with 38 seconds remaining after a timeout.
Irving was jeered loudly during his pregame introductions, and booed every time he touched the ball throughout his trip to Boston.
Bruce Brown was also mocked by fans. He suggested that Celtics big men Horford (Celtics' center) and Daniel Theis (Celtics’ middle) might be easier to attack inside the Celtics without Robert Williams III, who is injured at the rim.
Horford performed the first 12 minutes of his performance as if he was on a mission to destroy that idea.
Boston came into the game with the league's highest defensive rating since the All Star break. They applied pressure to Durant early on. In the first quarter, he tried to get into the post, but Durant was beaten by the Celtics with backside help defenders. He was stripped three times.
Brooklyn had seven turnovers in the quarter. Boston, however, was only 29-28 ahead.
Horford was very active, shooting 3 for 4, from the field, with 10 points, 2 rebounds, and a steal.
After Theis' third foul, Boston had to adjust in the second quarter. Things turned around when Drummond was whistled with 4:58 remaining in the period for his fourth foul.
The Celtics went on a 9-2 run immediately before the Nets regrouped to tie the game at 61.
Horford stated, "Stayed with the idea, took their shot, and found a way for us to win." "End of day, it's about getting the win. It doesn't matter what it was."
Brooklyn Nets: Brooklyn had 16 turnovers. Durant and Irving combined shot 1 for 8 from the field during the first quarter.
The Celtics outscored the Nets 56 to 32 in the paint. Williams cheered in street clothes from the bench. Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, and Jonathan Kraft, his son, sat courtside.
Horford is the only player in NBA history to have recorded a 20-point, fifteen-rebound playoff win at 35.
Irving was frustrated in the third quarter and appeared to turn his middle finger towards Boston's fans while running down the court.
"I'm going to have the same energy that they have for me. Irving stated that it's not for everyone. "There is only so much you can do as a competitor."