January is coming to close and the midseason doldrums of the NBA season are upon us, and it’s time for Player of the Week once more. Last week brought three games for the Celtics, all wins as a part of their erstwhile nine-game winning streak — Monday at Charlotte, Thursday at home against Golden State and Saturday at Toronto. Let’s take a look at the players who moved the needle this week, and crown our weekly standout.
It was a big week for the frontcourt this time around. Robert Williams is really rounding into form for this team, and posted a couple of solid performances — including a dominant outing against the undersized Warriors — before hyperextending his knee after 15 minutes against the Raptors. Meanwhile, Al Horford had his best individual performance of the season against Golden State, scoring 20 points and blocking three shots. Grant Williams picked up the scoring load against Toronto with a 25-point outburst, a season-high and his second time cracking the 20-point threshold this year.
This week, though, we’re going back to #0 for the hardware.
CelticsBlog Player of the Week #14: Jayson Tatum
2 GP, 44.1 MPG, 42.5 PPG (48% FG, 44% 3PT), 14 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.5 SPG, +22
It was a week of headlines for Tatum, who takes home the hardware this week even while taking some well-earned time off to rest his ailing left wrist on Saturday against Toronto. The marquee performance: 51 points against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night. It was the fifth 50-point game Tatum in the regular season (he also has one in the play-in tournament and one in the playoffs), breaking a tie with none other than Larry Bird for most such games in Boston Celtics history.
Let’s think about that again: the most in Celtics’ history. Jayson Tatum isn’t even 25 years old yet, and he’s surpassed Bird’s total of 50-point performances in less than half as many career games. Offense in the NBA may be at an all=time high, but the rarified air he’s put himself in over such a short period of time remains something truly special.
This was one of the more efficient 50-point games you’ll see. Tatum shot 65% from the field on the afternoon, including a perfect 14-for-14 from the free throw line. The Celtics jumped on the Hornets from the opening tip, and Tatum was involved in it all. He scored at least nine point in all four quarters, including 18 in the fourth to put Charlotte on ice for good.
Then there was the Warriors. After a…