Jayson Tatum and Luka Doncic were locked in a tough battle for supremacy between two of the early frontrunners for MVP, and they did not disappoint. Tatum, in the end, led the Boston Celtics to a 125-112 victory over the Dallas Mavericks despite Doncic’s best efforts to pull the Mavs back to within striking distance in the second half.
One crucial play that dashed all hopes of a Mavs comeback was Tatum’s resounding block on a Doncic layup attempt with the Celtics leading by 14 with two minutes to go. Tatum’s block eventually led to a right wing deep triple from Jaylen Brown that sent TD Garden into a frenzy, having essentially put the game to sleep.
TATUM BLOCK ⏩ JAYLEN TRIPLE🔥 pic.twitter.com/7vdwlzAVfD
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) November 24, 2022
After the game, Jayson Tatum revealed that he and Luka Doncic joked about the play. Tatum admitted that he went up high to contest Doncic’s shot because he was terrified to be put on a poster, while Doncic was perplexed that the Celtics star even entertained the notion of him yamming the ball down Tatum’s throat.
“You know I told him I had to block it ‘coz I didn’t want him to dunk on me. He looked at me, and he was like, ‘You thought I was gonna dunk it?’ I was like, ‘You never know. You’re tall enough for it. You can play above the rim a little bit,'” Tatum told reporters, per NBC Sports Boston.
For all of Doncic’s strengths, his ability to leap isn’t one of his best, but at 6’7, Tatum is right in thinking that Luka could pull off the occasional dunk especially at such a crucial juncture in the game. Alas, Tatum was more than ready to meet Doncic at the summit anyway, so an attempt to jam it might have ended up in more embarrassment for the Mavs star.
Jayson Tatum filled the stat sheet yet again, as he tallied 37 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 blocks, not to be outdone by Luka Doncic’s incredible 42-point, eight-rebound, nine-assist performance. Both are clearly playing at an MVP level, and if either one should win the award come the end of the season, no one would be surprised.
Daniel Donabedian ·
Nevertheless, it seems as if Tatum’s defensive acumen as well as the Celtics’ proficiency as a team could put him over the top.
At the end of the day, Jayson Tatum has nothing but respect for Luka Doncic, returning the Slovenian international’s lofty praise of him after the game.
“Obviously, [Luka’s] one of the best players in the league and a special talent, somebody I respect. I just like competing against guys like that,” Tatum added.