Must C’s: Jayson Tatum locks up DeMar DeRozan in key defensive stop against Bulls

DeMar DeRozan was on fire.

After the Celtics went up six early in the fourth quarter, a flurry of DeRozan mid-range jumpers coupled with timely threes from his supporting cast flipped the lead in favor of Chicago. Josh Richardson and Jaylen Brown, two of Boston’s better perimeter defenders, took turns covering the charging Bull, but the savvy veteran was able to draw fouls and get to the line late in the game.

He’d score 14 points in the final frame — enter Jayson Tatum — but none when it really mattered most.

“Size. Size mostly,” head coach Ime Udoka said of switching defensive coverages to put the 6’8” (or 6’10”, if you ask Brad Stevens) Tatum on DeRozan. “When we decided to switch or blitz him, we liked the size on him, switching the size on Vucevic and then bringing more size to him. That was mostly it. Josh is a good defender, but he was using his body to get to his spots on him, so we liked the size there. And then we trust him just to deny him without getting back cut or scored on easily. Jayson did a helluva job denying him and face guarding him and making them play 4-on-4.”

Here’s that size in action. Tatum starts out on DeRozan and the Celtics gladly make the switch on the pick with Robert Williams challenging DeRozan at the basket.

Another switch from lengthy wingspan to lengthy wingspan. Bulls head coach Billy Donovan hopes to get Richardson involved in the action, but Timelord lays in wait. DeRozan hits a tough fall away baseline jumper that the Celtics will live with, especially with Williams contesting.

Here’s the pièce de résistance of Tatum’s defense of DeRozan. With the game tied after a pair of clutch free throws from Williams, Chicago flattens the floor. DeRozan rejects a Coby White screen that could have potentially switched Richardson onto him. Tatum cuts off the drive with textbook footwork and gets a strong challenge 20 feet away from the rim.

Tatum, the deadly ISO killer, turned into the clamp down ISO defender. You love to see it.

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