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Celtics’ Kyrie Irving, Brad Stevens want Jayson Tatum to keep shooting


Jayson Tatum is in the midst of a slump, but his teammate Kyrie Irving and coach Brad Stevens have insisted he keep shooting the ball, regardless. His woes weren’t any more evident than on Monday’s game, as the Boston Celtics were up three and poised to make a run when Al Horford made a shot and then stole the ball back, feeding Tatum for an open three. He missed.

It only took 18 seconds for Tatum to snatch a defensive board and hoist another one up, coming up short again. The Denver Nuggets would grab a nine-point lead in the final quarter, resulting in a 114-105 win.

“He’s a really good shooter, he’s a very capable shooter, and I think that ultimately he’s going to knock those down,” Brad Stevens said after the game, according to John Karalis of MassLive. “Times when you’re struggling, ti’s all about getting in the gym and shooting your way through it. And you know, for some guys, it’s about ‘don’t take them,’ but for him it’s ‘shoot your way through it.’ Because that has to be one of this strengths.

Tatum has been shooting a ghastly 22.9 percent from deep since entering the All-Star break at a gaudy 38 percent from beyond the arc. Yet his teammate insists he should keep hoisting them up.

“You don’t want to overthink it,” said Irving, “but when your shot’s not going down you tend to overthink it, and that’s natural for any athlete.”

“You just want to give him confidence, keep giving him support, but slumps are overrated,” he said, finishing with the a line that all shooters can appreciate. “You’ve got to get FGA’s up to get FGM’s. That’s my motto. So, keep shooting them until you make it.”

Tatum had a splashy start to his NBA career, knocking down a surreal 43 percent from distance in his rookie year. That mark might be unreachable now that he’s guarded closely, but he can sure get close to 40 percent in the postseason if he regains confidence in his shot and sees a few of them go down early.