Ex-Boston Celtics champion Kendrick Perkins discussed Jayson Tatum’s crunch-time struggles during a one-on-one interview with Sam Yip of HoopsHype, and the former 6-foot-10 center may have the perfect solution.

“I think sometimes you gotta run misdirection and other times, you might have to run plays for other players. You do have Jrue Holiday on the roster, he’s battle-tested, and you do have Derrick White,” Perkins said.

“[Former Celtics coach] Doc Rivers used to always say, ‘Just because I draw up your play doesn’t mean it’s your shot.’ And I think the world has painted this narrative that if superstars don’t take the last shot, they don’t have a killer mindset and that’s not the case.

“We have seen time and time again when LeBron James passed up on shots and got great shots for others, wide-open looks.”

Tatum is 2-for-8 (25%) shooting in the final minute of one-possession games this season. He has also shot 36.1% from the field and 19.7% from 3-point range in the clutch the last three seasons, according to the Basketball-Reference database.

Kendrick Perkins believes the Boston Celtics’ real season with Jayson Tatum begins April 20th

In Boston’s 123-122 overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night, Tatum recorded 31 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists in 45 minutes of action. The five-time All-Star missed the potential game-winner on an off-balance 3-point attempt late in the fourth quarter.

In four seasons since his NBA debut, Tatum was 14-for-27 (51.9% shooting from the floor, 3-of-11 on 3-pointers) when taking a shot to tie or take lead in the last minute of the fourth quarter or overtime.

The seven-year veteran is now 10-for-37 (27% shooting from the field; 2-of-9 on 3-pointers) in three seasons since, including 2-for-11 this season. Another factor to consider is Tatum’s shot selection in the clutch.

Furthermore, Kendrick Perkins insinuated that Boston should get its disappointing losses out of the way right now, considering the 2024 NBA Playoffs begin Saturday, April 20.

“I’ve been saying this all season long… nothing that the Celtics do in the regular season is going to impress me. Their season actually starts April 20,” Perkins added. “So, I have to see if Kristaps Porzingis is gonna be able to hold up health-wise. Is he gonna be able to play at a 20 and 10 status every single night?

“When he has to match up with a guy like Giannis [Antetokounmpo], is he gonna be able to hold his own because that’s gonna be key. And also, Jayson Tatum, him and Jaylen Brown, in close games, can they be those guys to close out those close games and be able to go toe-to-toe. That’s what it’s gonna be based on.”

The Celtics lost in seven games to the Miami Heat in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.


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