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Three-time NBA All-Star Jayson Tatum wasn’t at his best Wednesday night, but he still hit a milestone with the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics remained red-hot with their ninth win in 11 games, including their third straight. Tatum finished with 16 points, but joined Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, John Havlicek and three other former Celtics in the record books with an early free throw in a 117-94 rout of the Chicago Bulls.

Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics keep on rolling

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics shoots between Patrick Williams #44 and Tristan Thompson #3 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on April 6, 2022, in Chicago, Illinois. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

To put it mildly, the Celtics are cruising. After a slow three months to start the season, Boston has been one of the hottest teams in the NBA, and they’re still going strong. Through 50 games, the Celtics underachieved, going 25-25 under first-year head coach Ime Udoka.

Since then, they’ve gone 25-5. Led by Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics find themselves as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with two games to go. Back in January, the playoffs were a giant question mark.

After Wednesday’s win over the Bulls, Udoka spoke about the keys to his team’s turnaround.

“It’s a pretty simple formula,” he said, per ESPN. “Play defense at an elite level. Share the ball, be unselfish on offense. And the results are there.”

The Celtics are right back in action Thursday, traveling to face the Milwaukee Bucks in a key matchup for seeding purposes. Should the Celtics defeat the Bucks, they will lock up the second seed.

Jayson Tatum struggled against the Bulls but reached a Boston Celtics milestone

Tatum wasn’t on his game Thursday but didn’t have to be. The Celtics went wire-to-wire against the Bulls to win their 50th game of the season.

Tatum finished with 16 points. He made five of 18 shots from the floor, including going 1-for-8 from three-point land. Despite the shooting woes, Tatum joined some elite Celtics company.

With an early free throw, Tatum became the seventh Celtics player in history to record 2,000 or more points in a season. He joined Bird, Havlicek, McHale, Paul Pierce, Sam Jones, and Isaiah Thomas in reaching the milestone.

Bird accomplished the feat five times in his career. A three-time MVP, Bird hit the 2,000-point mark each year from 1984-88. He was named MVP in three straight years from 1984-86.

Havlicek did it in four consecutive seasons from 1970-73. The only other player to do it multiple seasons was Pierce, who did it in 2001, ’02, ’03, and ’06.

Tatum and the Celtics bracing for the playoffs

Some thought the Celtics may have peaked a bit too soon. They began their hot streak in January, particularly Jan. 29, when they began a nine-game win streak right before All-Star Weekend.

The streak ended with a 112-111 loss at home to the Detroit Pistons. Since then, the Celtics have remained hot, going 16-4. During that stretch, Tatum had 12 games where he racked up 30 or more points. In a 126-120 victory against the Brooklyn Nets, Tatum unleashed 54 points and then followed that up with a 44-point effort in a victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

As it stands, the Celtics are the second seed and play the Bucks, who currently sit third. Playing in the second game of a back-to-back, it will be interesting if the Celtics rest any of their stars or if they go all out to secure that No. 2 seed.

No matter what happens against the Bucks, the Celtics will open the playoffs at home. If they stick to Udoka’s winning formula and keep playing the way they have, they can make some serious postseason noise.


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