Going into Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Jason Tatum was averaging over 28 points per game on 45 percent shooting from the field in the playoffs. But since the third game? He dropped to about 23 points per game on shooting below 40 percent. Pay tribute to Miami and Golden State. Their defense partly explains this fall.
But another possible variable here is that Tatum squeezed his shoulder in that loss to the Heat in Game 3. Tatum has never missed a game with such an injury. He even returned at the end of the third game. But visually it didn’t quite look like it from that point on, and statistically it just couldn’t get to the basket that easily.
So, after the Finals ended and the Celtics were stopped, did we learn anything else about Tatum’s injury? Well yes and no. Tatum didn’t talk about it in detail in the post-game press conference, but when asked if he expected to get any shoulder surgery in the off-season, he replied simply, “No, I don’t think so.” So.”
If the injury had been severe enough to require surgery, there’s a good chance Tatum would have missed time because of it. He didn’t. While he may have dealt with pain, it doesn’t look like he has sustained an injury that should have lasting effects. While it may not explain what happened to Tatum during the playoffs, it should at least make Celtics fans feel a little better next season. Their best player needs to be healthy as they try to make it back to the final for their 18th league title.