Can Jayson Tatum’s buzzer-beater fuel Celtics throughout NBA playoffs?

Forsberg: Why Tatum’s buzzer-beater is a crucial step forward for C’s originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The 2021-22 Boston Celtics never win that sort of game.

Despite being the best team in basketball over the final three months of the season, the Celtics had a nasty habit of fading in crunch time. Boston checked just about every box on the legitimate title contender checklist late in the year, except for showing an ability to win close games.

Which is why Jayson Tatum’s buzzer-beating layup to steal Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets feels even more monumental than your standard game-winner.

Celtics-Nets takeaways: Tatum’s heroics help C’s steal Game 1 thriller

Sunday’s winner delivered the sort of confidence transfusion that can carry a team through the playoffs. The Celtics already had the talent but were one bumbled final possession away from 48 hours of speculation about the team’s mental toughness, especially after kicking away a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter while Kevin Durant was on the Brooklyn bench.

Instead, the Celtics absorbed an absolute haymaker from old friend Kyrie Irving and gave him the virtual version of the middle finger he repeatedly flashed a jeering TD Garden crowd.

The Celtics have so often settled for isolation play and bad fadeaway jumpers at the end of games that it was downright jarring to see the final possession unfold the way it did.

Ime Udoka showed confidence in his crew by not calling a timeout after Boston’s final defensive stand. Udoka knew in that moment that, by avoiding a timeout, Brooklyn could not sub out a targetable defender like Irving, who ultimately waved feebly as Tatum spun his way to the winning layup.

Every single Boston player on the court factored into the final sequence. Al Horford, who had helped Marcus Smart hound Irving on the final possession, snagged a one-handed rebound when Kevin Durant’s 3-point attempt rocketed off the back rim. Derrick White gave the initial push up the floor and it was Jaylen Brown, relentless in his fourth-quarter attacking, who got the Nets defense scrambling…

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