There’s not much debate that Jayson Tatum has been the most important reason why the Boston Celtics are currently playing in the 2022 NBA Finals. The First-Team All-NBA forward is leading the team in points (26.3), assists (6.1), and steals (2.1) per game throughout the playoffs, and he was just named the first-ever winner of the Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals MVP for his performance against the Miami Heat.
Tatum also leads the Celtics in a much less desirable category this postseason: turnovers. In fact, he leads the entire NBA in giveaways since the playoffs began, and he’s on pace to set the NBA record for the most turnovers in a single postseason run.
Jayson Tatum has been the MVP for the Celtics this postseason
The Celtics wouldn’t be where they are right now without Tatum. The 24-year-old has been Boston’s most consistent scoring threat all postseason long, and he’s already bailed the team out of a few precarious situations.
In Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Milwaukee Bucks, with the Celtics one loss away from elimination, Tatum threw on his Superman cape and saved the season with a 46-point masterpiece. He sunk 17 of his 32 shot attempts and made a playoff-high seven threes in the victory. Two days later, he dropped 23 points and dished out eight assists to lead the Celtics to a decisive win in Game 7.
And with Boston’s season once again in the balance in the Eastern Conference Finals, Tatum recorded 26 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists in a Game 7 win against the Miami Heat.
Tatum may be the biggest reason why the Celtics have reached their first NBA Finals in 12 years, but his brilliant playoff run hasn’t been without its flaws.
Tatum is on pace to set an embarrassing playoff record
Most of Tatum’s postseason stats paint a picture of a budding superstar ready to win a Finals MVP trophy, but there’s one black mark on his resume that’s hard to ignore. Through 20 playoff starts this year, Tatum has coughed up 83 turnovers for an average of 4.15 per game. He’s committed 4.4 turnovers per game in Boston’s seven losses this postseason.
The forward is just 12 turnovers away from breaking the NBA record for the most in a single playoff run. LeBron James (2018) holds the record with 94.
Of the seven players who have committed more turnovers in a single postseason, four of them weren’t able to lead their teams to a title. That’s becoming a realistic possibility for Tatum and the Celtics, especially because the Golden State Warriors are so dangerous scoring off turnovers in transition. In Game 2 of the Finals, Boston allowed Golden State to score 33 points off 19 turnovers, four of which were by Tatum.
Tatum can’t afford to be careless with the ball in his hands against the Warriors. If he breaks James’ turnover record at some point in the Finals, the Celtics could be in serious trouble.