How Jaylen Brown Empowered Jayson Tatum In Game 3 Celtics Win

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The Celtics entered Cleveland with a 1-1 Eastern Conference semifinal series tie, looming distrust, and the repeated pressure of needing to respond on the road after allowing the Cavaliers to fire off their response in Game 2.

Jayson Tatum took the floor fresh off shooting an uncharacteristic and combined 2-for-10 from 3-point range in Game 1 and Game 2, which prompted some postgame backlash. Helping Boston light a fuse, teammate Jaylen Brown offered Tatum a few words of encouragement.

“Here we go. Come on, big deuce. Come on,” Brown told Tatum while mic’d up, per ESPN video. “… Tell ’em to stop playing with you. ‘I’m big deuce. I’m big deuce.’ Come on!”

Cleveland restricted Tatum through the first two games of the series, suffocating the five-time All-Star and forcing him to defer to Boston teammates, which didn’t work in Game 2. Tatum’s support couldn’t bail him out for a second straight time, however, in Game 3, the script was flipped.

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Tatum scored a Celtics-leading 33 points on 11-of-25 shooting with 13 rebounds and six assists, recording his sixth double-double this postseason.

“I was more focused on us as a team responding and playing better,” Tatum explained after Boston’s 106-93 Game 3 victory, per CLNS Media. “The points, like I said, they’ll come and go but the poise and purpose that we played with tonight in a great environment, was fun to be a part of. So that was my main focus, making sure that we win this game.”

Tatum scored 15 points in the second half and delivered a turn-around dagger in the fourth quarter over Cleveland’s Max Strus, giving the Celtics a 2-1 series lead — bringing Boston halfway to a conference finals appearance.

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