Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum had a front-row seat to watch one of the more thrilling performances in NBA Finals history in Game 4, as Stephen Curry led the way for the Golden State Warriors with a 43-point outing.
Tatum guarded Curry on six shots in the contest, and the two-time NBA MVP winner knocked down a trio of baskets in such matchups.
Speaking during his media availability on Sunday, Tatum was asked on what he has “learned” from Curry through four contests in this year’s NBA Finals. The versatile Celtics scorer took some time to laud Curry as one of the “greatest” to ever play the game.
“I mean, everybody knows he's a great player, right, one of the greatest,” Tatum said. “He's doing what he has to do to put his team in the best position to win. … I knew he was a great player before the series, and after Game 4, I knew he was a great player as well.”
Tatum has not had much of a responsibility in guarding Curry over this series, unlike with Marcus Smart. Through four games in the NBA Finals, the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year winner has guarded 15 of Curry’s total shot attempts.
On Smart’s part, it is not just Curry’s shooting efficiency that makes him one of the all-time great offensive players. Overall, he sees that the Warriors guard simply does it all on the court.
“For him, he can affect the game at all levels, passing, play-making, shooting the ball, scoring the ball,” Smart said. “He's got the whole package, and you have to be able to guard every last thing he has, and not many players can do that.
“Not a lot of people, especially on that defensive end, likes to sit down and play defense. … But you have to be willing to take that challenge and just go do it when you're guarding him.”
In the big picture, much attention sure will be on whether Celtics head coach Ime Udoka has any notable plans to tweak his defensive game plan in order to contain Curry in Game 5 on Monday.