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Jayson Tatum sparks Boston Celtics first quarter offense

Jayson Tatum sparks Boston Celtics first quarter offense

On Monday night, the Boston Celtics took down the shorthanded Cleveland Cavaliers 109-102 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the conference semifinals. With the Cavs without offensive flamethrower Donovan Mitchell, they put up a strong effort but ultimately couldn’t prevail over the Celtics’ three-point shooting finding its level.

Throughout the entirety of the regular season, the Celtics ran a high-octane offense that shattered records and racked up wins. The same mentality and approach that landed them the first seed in the East is the same that’s driven them within one win of punching their ticket to the conference finals for the third straight year.

So much has been made about Boston lacking aggression or drive at times, with superstar Jayson Tatum oftentimes becoming a focal point in that conversation. But in a hard-fought Game 5 victory, Tatum led by example in the first quarter, leading Boston on 6-of-9 shooting (1-of-3 3P), 3-of-3 from the charity stripe, four rebounds and tallying one assist, a steal and a block.

Not only did Tatum tie Derrick White’s recent franchise record, but it was a career playoff high for first quarter scoring as he dropped 16 of Boston’s 37 first quarter points. Tatum also played the entire 12 minutes, which has emerged as a trend since their first round series.

Following the Kristaps Porzingis injury in Game 4 against Miami, Boston has changed up their approach to the first quarter. This isn’t a one-off thing either, as he’s played the entirety of every first quarter since the Celtics sent the Heat packing.

What’s significant about this is Boston’s success hinging on their first quarter performance this postseason. When the Celtics win the first quarter by any margin, they’re a perfect 7-0; when they don’t, they’re 0-2. In Boston’s Game 2 loss to the Cavs, Tatum had 8 points on 1-of-4 from the field (1-2 3P), 5-of-6 from the line along with 5 rebounds and two assists; He had a plus-minus of -2 and a net rating of -20.

Things become more clear when taking a look at Boston’s first quarter performance in their wins as well.

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