Steven A. Smith questions Tatum’s ‘Mamba mentality’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
For the Boston Celtics to force Game 7 against the Golden State Warriors and potentially lift Banner 18, Jason Tatum it needs to be raised.
The three-time All-Star scored 20 or more points in four of five games in the NBA Finals, but total points don’t tell the whole story. He has yet to put together a truly dominant performance and his fight in the fourth quarter turned out to be expensive. He shoots just 5 of 21 (23.8 percent) in the last frame of this series.
Ahead of the Game 6 decider on Thursday night, ESPN’s Steven A. Smith has joined The Sports Hub’s 98.5. Disks and Mazz with some criticism of Tatum. Though he believes in the talent of the 24-year-old superstar, Smith is put off by some of Tatum’s qualities.
“I have complete confidence in the world for him in the future,” Smith said. “In this series, my number one problem with him is that he seeks help from the referees in every game. In every game. And it stuck in his head. This is very annoying.
“Because you look at them and one minute he’s shooting 45 percent from three-point range. He gives it to you. He can distract you from dribbling. He has a mid-range game. “He can score at the basket. He can score on the open court, plus he can defend. You know, he belongs on the court with these guys. And then, he starts the game, he won’t shoot for the first 10 minutes.”
Host Michael Felger asked Smith if Tatum’s “killer instinct” bothered him.
“Yes, no questions asked,” Smith replied. “I think he wants it, but talking about Kobe (Bryant) and the ‘Mamba mentality’ is a whole other thing than being that dude.
“I have no doubt that he will get there. Jason Tatum is the future of this franchise, he and Jaylen Brown, and that’s saying a lot because you’ll be back here, no doubt about it. that gifted.”
Tatum is hoping his signature Finals performance will come on Thursday in Game 6 decider, starting just after 9:00 pm ET at TD Garden.
You can watch the full excerpt with Stephen A. Smith below: