Celtics

Here’s a look at Jayson Tatum’s sizzling February, by the numbers

He averaged 30.7 points and fueled the Celtics to a 9-3 record.

Jayson Tatum drives past Robert Covington during the second half Saturday. Michael Dwyer/AP Photo

Much has been made of Jayson Tatum’s dominance of late, as he’s consistently carried the Celtics while Kemba Walker has been sidelined and has emerged as a player many now view as a superstar.

Tatum turned in the best month of his career, averaging 30.7 points per game and leading the Celtics to a 9-3 record in February.

Here’s a closer look at his torrid stretch, by the numbers, with some context on what it all means:

He shot 49.4 percent from the field and 48.1 percent from 3.

Tatum’s scoring average was impressive by itself, but his efficiency made it even more noteworthy. He shot 49.4 percent from the floor and 48.1 percent from 3-point range, hitting 60 percent or better from the field four times and at least 50 percent from 3 eight times.

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His season average is 45 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from 3, and his career averages are 45.7 and 39.8. Tatum’s shooting percentages were actually better his rookie year, but he only took 10.4 shots per game that year compared to his current clip of 18.7 per night and 20.8 in February.

He got to the free-throw line 7.6 times per game.

Most superstars have a knack for getting to the free-throw line, and Tatum showed that ability in February.

He averaged 7.6 attempts per game, compared to 4.2 in January, 3.6 in December, 4.2 in November, and 3.5 in four games in October. His career average is 3.5, and his clip for the season is now up to 4.7 attempts per game.

Against the Los Angeles Lakers, he racked up a career-high 15 attempts from the line, hitting 13 and helping the Celtics nearly pull out a road win.

He only committed 2.1 fouls per game.

Tatum is also thriving on the defensive end. He racked up 1.3 blocks and 1.2 steals per game in February, consistently using his length and athleticism to affect plays and alter games.

Despite playing 37.3 minutes per game, he only committed 2.1 fouls per contest. He stymied Kawhi Leonard late in the game in the Celtics’ win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

He averaged 40 points against teams from Los Angeles.

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Tatum played arguably his best games of the month, if not of his career, against the Clippers and Lakers. He seemed to relish the challenge of out-dueling Leonard and LeBron James.

Against the Clippers, he poured in 39 points on 14-of-23 shooting in 48 minutes, while Leonard finished with 28 points on 10-of-27 shooting in 46 minutes. Tatum made Leonard work for everything, and Tatum hit a clutch jumper near the end of regulation, another one in overtime, and a key layup in double overtime.

Tatum tied his career high against the Lakers with 41 on 12-of-20 shooting. James finished with 29 on 9-of-19 shooting, and the Lakers eked out a win, but Tatum finished plus-six and was the main catalyst for the Celtics.

He’s putting up 24.7 points in wins and 20.4 points in losses this season.

It’s not surprising, but it is worth noting, that the Celtics fare significantly better when Tatum is on his game.

In wins this season, he’s averaging 24.7 points per game while shooting 46.7 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3, and is plus 12.6 per night.

In losses, those numbers dip to 20.4 points, 40.6 percent from the field, 30.5 percent from 3, and minus-3.6. The Lakers game was an outlier, but in the Celtics’ other two losses in February — both to the Houston Rockets — he shot 33.3 percent from the field and 21.1 percent from 3.

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They won every other game, and it wasn’t a coincidence that he facilitated much of that success. There’s a lot more to the Celtics than Tatum, but February made it clear that when he’s playing like a superstar, they’re very difficult to beat.

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