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June 15, 2022

Jayson Tatum

Boston Celtics

Practice Day

Q. Jaylen was talking about his personal growth throughout the course of the season and postseason. What ways do you think you've grown as a player or person, a leader, throughout the course of the season, postseason?

JAYSON TATUM: In what ways? I feel like I've grown a lot just as an all-around player. Obviously, my playmaking has grown and been better than in recent years, and defensively, and just I feel like this is probably the best season I've had. I go from not making All-NBA to being First Team. There was some growth there.

Q. Are you keeping that ball away from Draymond?

JAYSON TATUM: Oh, like the other day?

Q. Yes.

JAYSON TATUM: It's my ball.

Q. How hard is it to approach a game where you guys want to concentrate on keeping your turnovers down? Does that get in the way of playing free and easy?

JAYSON TATUM: I don't think so because I feel like, from watching film, there are a lot of things. There were some frequency turnovers, right? Some situations where we kept getting in the same spot that was causing turnovers.

Maybe if we can stay away from jumping in the air and passing it, jumping off one leg, being more under control, while still playing free, we can do both.

Q. You joked the other night that you guys don't put yourselves in these positions on purpose throughout the playoffs. Ime has kind of, a similar vein, jokingly said a few times you guys have to make it hard on yourselves to get where you want to go. What has led you to repeatedly being in these situations? What have you learned as a group the way you've been able to persevere through them so far?

JAYSON TATUM: I think just how we respond. It hasn't been easy. It's been extremely tough. We've had some tough losses. Losing Game 5 against Milwaukee was extremely tough. Knowing we had to win two, go on the road. Losing Game 6 against the Heat was extremely tough.

In those moments, we just responded. I don't know exactly what it is, but I think just our will to want to win, just trying to figure it out.

Q. Do you draw anything from that Game 6 against Milwaukee going into tomorrow given the situation and opponent?

JAYSON TATUM: I think my thought process, as it was in that game, Game 7, Game 7 against the Heat, it was just do whatever it takes to win. That can look different from game to game.

But we won all those games. Felt like myself and everybody else did whatever it took. That's the mindset you got to have going into tomorrow, then hopefully a Game 7.

Q. What's your source of optimism entering this game, kind of for the rest of the series, knowing you've been in tough spots before, earlier in the playoffs, way back in January? How do you step back and look at a bigger picture and see what you want is still in front of you?

JAYSON TATUM: Just because it is. It's the first to four. It's not over with. So as long as it's not over with, you got a chance.

I think having done it before should give you even more confidence that you can. Not that it's going to be easy or it's going to be given to us, but you should be extremely confident as long as you got a chance.

We got a chance tomorrow.

Q. Obviously the NBA championship trophy is going to be there. You don't want them celebrating on your floor, partying later on that night in Boston. Is it up to you, Marcus, Jaylen, Ime to get everybody on collective how important this game is? Do you need to be more vocal, or is it just collectively assumed? How do the emotions before a game like this differ from a normal game?

JAYSON TATUM: We're all professionals and adults. We know what's at stake. Everybody in that locker room should and is going to understand what we got to do, what's on the line.

So it shouldn't take a hero speech or anything like that. Everybody should be juiced up and ready to play. I'm not even going to say if they're not, it's a problem. Everybody is going to be ready to play. I'm not worried about that at all.

Q. I know you guys had very difficult series with Milwaukee, with Miami. Does this feel different from the mental aspect of having to guard a team as experienced as Golden State? Conversely, having to score against a team that defends as well as Golden State? It's kind of like a mirror image of yourself in some ways.

JAYSON TATUM: Yeah, I mean, they're a great team. They present different challenges than Milwaukee and Miami. I think that's just part of the playoffs, adjusting to different teams and the different challenges that they give you. You got to adjust pretty quickly moving from series to series.

This is no different. So it's a challenge nonetheless. It's just a different one compared to playing Milwaukee and Miami.

Q. Ime mentioned at the end of Game 5 fatigue might have been a factor for you guys in the fourth quarter. You're playing the leading minutes. Going into a win-or-go-home game, what is the balance for you? What are the conversations you'll have with Ime during the game in terms of playing as much as you can but balancing out the need for a little bit of rest to maximize what you can do?

JAYSON TATUM: It's Game 6, elimination game. There's not really time to be finding time to rest.

Obviously, throughout the course of the game, me and him will talk, if there are spots to find, time to rest. But that's what timeouts are for.

At this point the season, at most we got two games left. So it's just mental. You got to fight through that. I'm not the only person that is tired or dealing with injuries or whatever. Last two teams standing. We've been playing six, seven months. So everybody is dealing with something.

I'm not really focused on that at all. At most we got a week left, then I can rest all summer.

Q. Ime was just talking about building his coaching staff this year. He said when he was building it, the players stepped up and said we need to keep Joe Mazzulla on this staff. Why do you feel he was such an important member of the coaching staff? How have you seen him grow as a coach?

JAYSON TATUM: I didn't say that. No, I'm (expletive) with you (smiling).


I love Joe. I think just being around him for the last -- I think this is his second or third year maybe, you could tell how passionate (he is) about the guys and his craft. He's gotten so much more knowledgeable, more detailed, just vocal. More comfortable in his role as a coach. You've seen a growth from his first year.

He's helped me out tremendously as a player and as a person. I can't say enough good things about Joe. Everybody appreciates him, what he brings to this team. I'm glad that we have him.

Q. Jaylen was talking about the pace you guys need to play at, some of the possessions where you let the shot clock run down a little bit. What is going on in certain possessions when you do get stagnant or that shot clock is at 14 when you get into it? What slows you down at times?

JAYSON TATUM: I think being in our spots. We just got to be conscious of not walking to spots, but getting there with some sense of urgency.

You playing in the half court, let them set their defense, they're really, really good. I think obviously it starts with getting stops, then kicking the ball ahead when you do get a stop, playing in transition.

Even if you don't score, just putting pressure on the defense, then bring it back out and set something up. Walking the ball up and things like that, it's tough to score.

Q. Walking around the city, you can tell the Celtics pride, how much the city is behind you. How much do you think it's important, gives you extra motivation to play this game at TD Garden, how much the fans can help you win this one?

JAYSON TATUM: Yeah, it's great being back home. It's the last home game of the season. Looking forward to being in front of the crowd, knowing that they're going to be behind us and giving us that extra boost of energy, as they have my whole career.

I'm extremely excited to see them tomorrow. It's going to be extremely loud in here. It's going to be fun. It's going to be a great atmosphere. Looking forward to that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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