Jayson Tatum Joins Boston Celtics Legend Larry Bird in the Record Books

The Boston Celtics have been surging since the calendar switched over to 2022. They’re 21-6 since January 6, and they’ve vaulted from play-in tournament territory to the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.

On Sunday afternoon, Boston added another impressive win to its resume by taking down Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and the Brooklyn Nets behind an epic 54-point performance from Jayson Tatum. With the 50-piece, Tatum impressively tied Larry Bird in the Celtics’ record books.

Jayson Tatum erupts for 54 points against the Nets

Don’t look now, but the Celtics are one of the hottest teams in the NBA.

Boston has the fourth-best record in the league since January 1, and it made a statement on Sunday afternoon by defeating the Nets at home in a 126-120 slugfest. Tatum was the star of the show, as he erupted for 54 points on 16-for-30 shooting and 8-for-15 beyond the arc. He also pitched in five rebounds and three assists.

After the game, Durant praised Tatum for his ascension to one of the best scorers in the NBA.

“He’s a shot-maker,” Durant said. “He got some free throws there in the fourth and then he made some tough shots, some three-point shots. He’s an elite shot-maker. He’s been knocking ’em down, playing with confidence lately.”

The Celtics are now 39-27 and just 4.5 games back of the Miami Heat for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Tatum joins Larry Bird in the Celtics’ record books

After his 54-point masterpiece on Sunday, Tatum now has four 50-point games in his young career. Incredibly, he’s now tied with Hall of Famer Larry Bird for the most 50-point performances in Celtics history.

“This is what I dreamed about as a kid, and I waited my whole life to get to,” Tatum told reporters after the win. “Obviously, I have a long way to go, a long way to what I’m trying to accomplish, but staying in the moment and just enjoying it. Having fun doing what I love every day.” 

Tatum just turned 24 a few days ago, so chances are high he eventually passes Bird on the list. The way he’s been playing lately, that might even happen this season.

Are the Celtics legitimate Eastern Conference contenders?

Jayson Tatum reacts against the Nets.
Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics reacts during a game against the Brooklyn Nets | Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The Eastern Conference is a minefield filled with dangerous contenders. The Heat have been dominant all season, the Philadelphia 76ers look lethal with James Harden, the Milwaukee Bucks are just as dangerous as last season, and the Nets can’t be counted out despite their disappointing record.

Over the last few months, the Celtics have officially joined that list. Boston ranks fourth in the NBA in net rating (+5.6), and they’ve been by far the best defensive team in the league since January 1.

If Tatum can continue his scoring prowess into the postseason, Boston will be as hard to beat as any of the top teams in the East.

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