Friday, Oct. 6 – Celtics at 76ers
Pregame – Tatum Set for First NBA Start
PHILADELPHIA – Brad Stevens likes what he’s seeing out of Jayson Tatum during the early stages of preseason play. In fact, the coach has been so impressed by Tatum’s effort that he’s decided to place the 19-year-old rookie into Boston’s starting lineup tonight when it takes on the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center.
Tatum made his NBA debut Monday night against the Charlotte Hornets and he recorded nine points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks, all while logging a game-high 33 minutes during Boston’s 94-82 win.
On top of that performance, Tatum has performed strongly at practice of late, particularly on the defensive end. Stevens thinks his overall skill set could complement the rest of Boston’s current starting unit that also includes Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford.
“I think the biggest thing is that he’s totally committed to being as good of a defender as he can be,” Stevens said of Tatum ahead of the 7 p.m. tip-off. “When you put guys out there with Kyrie (Irving) and Gordon (Hayward) and Al (Horford), we need guys that make the team around them better. And with that we also have to be mindful of groups that are playing off the bench together. So we want to try to be the best that we can be on both ends, and I’m encouraged by Jayson’s start defensively thus far.”
That being said, Stevens added that this decision should not be read into too much, as he noted that the preseason is a time to test the waters with various combinations.
“I think we just want to continue to look at different groups playing together, so, as I told them, it’s unlikely that that would be something that we would set in stone by any means,” said Stevens. “But we want to continue to look at different groups and different guys together, so we’ll see.”
Tatum and the rest of the C’s will be on the court at 7 p.m., so be sure to tune into NBC Sports Boston to catch his first NBA start.
– Taylor C. Snow