There may have been plenty of concerns regarding their level of play in recent weeks, but Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics put those worries to rest, at least for one night, with such a resounding performance against the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks. They ended up destroying the Bucks by as many as 46 points en route to a 140-99 victory, with Tatum's superstar play at the heart of their blowout win.
In just 31 minutes of action, Tatum led the Celtics in scoring with a performance reminiscent of his early-season hot spell. Tatum scored 40 points on 12-18 shooting from the field (8-10 from deep), and in doing so, he etched his name even deeper into Celtics lore.
With his latest 40-point night, Jayson Tatum passed Paul Pierce for the second-most such games in Celtics history, with 22, despite being in just his sixth season in the league. For comparison, Pierce played in 15 seasons for the Celtics before moving to the Brooklyn Nets in the trade that, interestingly enough, brought back the pick that eventually became Tatum.
Just to put Tatum's feat in even greater perspective, the Celtics' current star man has played in 666 less games for the Celtics than the 2008 NBA Finals MVP.
Jayson Tatum has passed Paul Pierce for 2nd-most 40-point games in Celtics franchise history 🤯
Tatum just turned 25 this month. pic.twitter.com/dMrfteDTKJ
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) March 31, 2023
Of course, it helps that the current scoring rate in the NBA is reaching unprecedented heights, which makes Jayson Tatum's scoring outbursts a more likely occurrence than they were during Paul Pierce's era. During Pierce's 15-season stint in Beantown, the average scoring in the league only reached over 100 points twice, indicative of a much slower pace and less focus on the three-point shot. Meanwhile, since the 2017-18 season, scoring has continued to rise (with the exception of the 2021-22 season).
Still, this should not take away from Tatum's impressive ability to put the ball through the hoop. For the 2022-23 season alone, the Celtics star has tallied 11 40+ point nights (exactly half his career tally). And with the postseason on the docket, there's no better time for Tatum to get his rhythm back.
And who knows, maybe Tatum could inch even closer to Larry Bird's franchise record of 40-point games (47) as the season progresses.