Wizards shutting down Jayson Tatum was key in victory over Celtics

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Chase Hughes
·3 min read
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Wizards shutting down Tatum was key in victory over Celtics originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Amid their best defensive game of the season so far, a 104-91 win over the Boston Celtics, the Wizards managed to keep Jayson Tatum - one of the NBA's best and most versatile scorers - to only six points. That is over 20 points below what he averages on the season.

Tatum, 22, had 32 points against the Wizards in January and hadn't scored in single digits in any other game this year. But the Wizards successfully held him in check, as he shot just 3-for-14 from the field and 0-for-2 from three.

"We were good, but he had an off-night," head coach Scott Brooks said. "All-Stars have off-nights, big-time players have off-nights. It's not a video game every night. Even though sometimes it looks that way, it's not."

"I really don't know. It was just one of those nights for him," guard Bradley Beal said. "We all have them, hell, I had one last week. It happens. He's still a star, he's still a great player in this league."

Surely, it wasn't all luck for the Wizards against the Celtics' young star. One thing they did was get him into early foul trouble. He had three fouls just four minutes into the second quarter.

Beal believes that threw off Tatum's approach, especially after he got called for a charge on his fourth foul.

"He let us off the hook for sure. He should have stayed in attack mode and stayed aggressive," Beal explained. "But I think him being in foul trouble early on kind of hurt him, hurt his rhythm. We just tried to make it as difficult as possible."

Brooks also pointed to the Wizards contesting Tatum at the perimeter and creating traffic in front of him off the dribble. Brooks was generally pleased with how his team got back in transition defense after struggling in that department for much of this season.

As center Moe Wagner noted, the gameplan for Tatum was a familiar one. It's how teams try to stop Beal, the NBA's leading scorer, on a nightly basis.

Just like with Beal, the plan doesn't always work, it just happened to work this time.

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"I mean, he's good. So, what is the approach? You try to not have him score as much," Wagner said. "You have him see bodies, be physical with him. Honestly, same thing that people do with Brad. It's a pretty simple approach. It's not easy to execute, but it worked well today."

Just like with his six points, Tatum's three made field goals were also a season-low. It was just the second time this year he was held without a three-point shot.

Three-point defense has been a major issue this season for the Wizards, who allow the second-highest percentage (39.7) in the NBA. Tatum, meanwhile, shoots 41.3 percent from three on the year on 7.2 attempts. 

It was an unexpected turn of events for the Wizards, who rank 29th in defense this season, to shut down one of the NBA's best scorers. But by doing so, they earned one of their most impressive wins.

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
Toronto
+280+8.5O 218.5
Boston
-358-8.5U 218.5