Jayson Tatum’s ‘Special’ No-Look Pass In Game 3 Impressed Celtics

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Jayson Tatum delivered the biggest, flashiest, and riskiest pass of the season for the Celtics in the clutch to put Boston ahead, 3-0, in the Eastern Conference finals against the Pacers on Saturday night.

Boston played catch-up for most of Game 3, hunting its first lead since the second quarter deep into the final frame. Tatum answered a leader’s call to action with less than two minutes in regulation by assisting Al Horford with an unbelievable behind-the-back assist, cutting Indiana’s lead to 111-109.

“It’s just reads. We always talk about spacing, making sure we’re in the right spots,” Tatum explained, per CLNS Media. “I trusted that (Horford) was going to be there. He trusted that I would make the right read, and that was a hell of a shot that he made.”

Tatum’s assist, which gave Horford a career-high seventh 3-pointer in a single game, was one of several series-defining plays made by the Celtics. When the pressure was on, the team responded. Tatum’s no-look dish might not have been the biggest play — because there were too many to count — but it was the gutsiest one anyone in a Celtics uniform has pulled off in that situation.

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Baiting defenders is what Tatum’s done all postseason, starting in the first round against the Heat and then in the semifinals against the Cavaliers. Whenever opponents are willing to swarm Tatum, the five-time All-Star happily accepts the trade-off and finds the best look available.

That time it happened to be Horford, patient and ready, and finishing with 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 7-of-12 from beyond the arc.

“That was pretty special,” Horford said, per NBA video. “… I don’t know how he got it there, but he had to improvise. He just continues to make, time after time, the right play. And that was an unbelievable play that he made.”

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Tatum’s facilitating growth has been stellar. It’s opened the door for Kristaps Porzingis to become the team’s third star. It’s made the Celtics the league’s most lethal offense since the season opened in October, and it’s put the team one win shy of punching its ticket to the NBA Finals.

Fans, and Boston’s locker room, likely won’t forget about Tatum’s all-time playoff dime anytime soon — especially if the mission is completed.

“Hang it in the (expletive) Louvre,” Jaylen Brown said, per CLNS.

The Celtics can close out the Pacers once and for all, on Monday night.

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