By Eurohoops team/ email@example.com
Jayson Tatum rolled his ankle after a layup just 30 seconds into the pivotal Eastern Conference Finals matchup. The four-time All-Star stayed in the game, but his body language and unusual lack of explosiveness made it clear he was playing through pain.
Unsurprisingly, Tatum’s 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting weren’t enough to propel the C’s to the 2023 NBA Finals. The Celtics struggled mightily on both ends of the floor, shooting 39 percent from the field (9-42 from 3) while the Heat shot 48.8 percent (14-28 from 3). Jaylen Brown (8-23 FG, 1-9 3-PT, 8 TOs) failed to step up as Boston’s No. 1 with Tatum hurt.
Tatum addressed his ankle injury, which does not yet have an official diagnosis, after the 103-84 loss.
“I saw the video after the game that I came down on my ankle,” Tatum said. “And that’s tough, because it kind of impacted me the rest of the night. It swelled up and it was just frustrating that I was kind of a shell of myself. It was tough to move. It was just frustrating, especially that it happened on the first play.”
Marcus Smart credited Tatum for battling through the injury. The veteran point guard also noted Derrick White exiting late with a knee issue and Malcolm Brogdon dealing with an arm issue throughout the series.
“He hurt his ankle really bad early,” Smart said of Tatum. “He could’ve came out the game. He stayed in, he tried to fight and obviously you could see he wasn’t himself. He wasn’t as explosive. The ankle was really killing him, and he tried to fight. It just didn’t go in his favor. It didn’t go in any of our favors, but we continued just to fight and help him.
“Then D-White goes out with a knee injury as well, and obviously we know about Malcolm (Brogdon). So it’s tough. At the wrong time. But it’s part of the game. Certain things you can’t control and getting hurt like that is nothing you can control, so it just happened at the wrong time.”