Jayson Tatum’s 50-point playoff performance in Game 3 was not only impressive; it was literally historic too.
On Friday night, the Boston Celtics desperately needed a win to keep their season alive. They were already down 0-2 in their first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets and their star-studded Big 3, so heading back home to the friendly confines of TD Garden, they needed to find a way to rise to the occasion.
Jayson Tatum did exactly that for the home team, dropping a game-high 50 points in a performance that was literally historic. Shooting 16-for-30 from the field, 5-for-11 from 3-point range and 13-for-15 from the free-throw line, Tatum was unstoppable from every area of the floor, and the Celtics needed every one of those points to eke out a 125-119 win in Game 3.
Anytime a guy goes for 50-plus in a playoff game, there’s a good chance they’re making history of some sort. But Tatum reset the bar in multiple ways, already establishing himself as a Boston legend in-the-making.
Jayson Tatum’s performance was literally historic
Per Stat Muse, at 23 years and 86 days, Tatum became the third-youngest player in NBA history to drop 50-plus points in a playoff game, trailing only Michael Jordan (23 years, 62 days) and Rick Barry (23 years, 21 days) — two certified Hall-of-Famers, one of whom is the GOAT.
Overall, this was the fourth 50-point performance of Tatum’s career, and according to ESPN Stats & Info, it only took him 338 career games to get there — well ahead of the mark Larry Bird set with his fourth 50-point performance, which took him 867 games to achieve.
Tatum was also the first player in NBA history to bounce back with a 50-point playoff game after scoring in single digits the game before.
If it feels like Tatum just dropped 50 points recently, that’s because he absolutely did. In Boston’s play-in game against the Washington Wizards, the 23-year-old was similarly unstoppable, finishing with 50 points and 8 rebounds while shooting 14-for-32 from the floor, 5-for-12 from long range and a perfect 17-for-17 from the foul line.
He also dropped 53 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 9, which means Tatum put himself in a class of his own with the arrival of this year’s Play-In Tournament:
Finally, Tatum’s 50-point performance in Game 3 tied him for the fourth-most points ever scored by a Celtic in a playoff game, and the first Boston player to drop 50 in a playoff game since Isaiah Thomas. The full list is quite impressive:
The Celtics are probably outmatched against Brooklyn’s Big 3, but if Tatum is able to string together dominant scoring performances like this, perhaps they’ll stand a puncher’s chance after all.