The Boston Celtics narrowly defeated the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night. More than just the play on the parquet, Jayson Tatum gave fans a reason to feel more confident in his approach to contributing to the team beyond his scoring.
Although his shooting is still not up to his standards, Tatum pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds in Boston’s win. “I just want to contribute and help us win,” said Tatum. “Rob gets mad at me sometimes because he feels like he boxes out and I come steal the board (laughs).”
On having Robert Williams back on the floor, Tatum said “it means everything” and stressed his importance on the defensive end for Boston with his athleticism and shot-blocking potential.
In regards to his own playmaking and allowing his teammates to take on the scoring load, Tatum quipped, “I saw a report the other day that said I was a selfish player. That seems pretty unselfish of me. There’s 82 games. Sometimes you need to play off the ball, too.”
With Jaylen Brown just recently returning from injury and struggling, Tatum said, “I’m gonna be there for him, like he’s been there for me. When we get down sometimes, we’re just there for each other. I tell him he’s gonna be the best version of Jaylen Brown. And he’s gonna be.”
On the narrow victory, head coach Ime Udoka said he was “not really going to apologize for an ugly win,” and continued, “we did what we were supposed to do defensively.”
On Al Horford’s first game back with the Celtics against the 76ers, Udoka knew that the matchup against their former team meant something, “It probably means a little more for myself, Al and Josh because we’ve been there.”
On Horford, Udoka said, “he’s a prideful guy. None of us loved how it went for him in Philadelphia and the team in general…One stop, one blip on the radar doesn’t define his whole career & I think he’s shown who he really is.”
On Jaylen Brown and his lingering issues, Udoka was asked if Brown had tweaked or reinjured anything in the last few minutes of play. “No, he didn’t say anything. I thought he had a pretty good effort possession and that’s all I was looking from him tonight.”
When asked if this game was meaningful for him, Horford said, “no question, it was a great win, considering.. well… everything. Great win.”
On his rough and tumble time in Philadelphia, Horford said in the moment “I can either cave in, or I can make the most of it’. When I went to OKC, they put me in a place to succeed. They were great to me. Being back here, that’s everything. It’s a chance to play at a high level again.”
On young center Robert Williams, Horford said, “Rob is a very smart player. He knows how to play. He knows how to find his space on the court. He’s very easy to play with.”