Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown have to cut down turnovers for Celtics to have a chance

"Areas we can easily clean up and look to improve on."

Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics handles the ball and collides with Victor Oladipo. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

One day removed from Game 3 between the Celtics and Heat, the turnover numbers by both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown continue to boggle the mind.

Brown committed seven. Tatum committed six. In the third quarter, when Jimmy Butler’s absence handed the Celtics a prime opportunity to rally, Brown committed six of his turnovers — all live ball. In fact, 12 of the 13 turnovers committed by Brown and Tatum were live-ball turnovers, and the Heat outscored the Celtics by a staggering 33-9 in points off turnovers.

In other words, the Celtics almost certainly would have won Saturday’s game if they could have hung on to the ball. So why did they struggle so much? Here’s what happened on each of the turnovers, and a few things we can learn from them as a whole.


1st Quarter – 8:48: Tatum drove into the paint and beat Max Strus off the bounce with ease, but Kyle Lowry stepped up to take a charge. Tatum seemed to recognize it and threw a weak pass to the corner, which Butler picked off.

2nd Quarter – 10:36: Tatum drove into two defenders and fell down with Caleb Martin. The officials didn’t call a charge or a block (to their credit), and Bam Adebayo dove in to create a jump ball. All three Heat players were locked in and ready for Tatum’s drive.

2nd Quarter – 6:25: Tatum dislodged P.J. Tucker in transition and sent him flying. Tucker dressed up the contact, but it was there, and Tatum was whistled for an offensive foul — the only turnover by Tatum or Brown that wasn’t live-ball.

2nd Quarter – 1:58: Brown floated a bad pick-and-roll pass to Grant Williams, which was picked off by Tucker.

3rd Quarter – 9:40: Brown tried to lazily split a pick-and-roll, and Victor Oladipo easily poked it away.

3rd Quarter – 9:37: Tatum posted up Tyler Herro, but when the double team came, he threw a lazy pass to Marcus Smart that Martin picked off easily. This one looked like a completely unforced error.


3rd Quarter – 9:22: Brown tried to drive at Oladipo, who bodied him up and poked the ball away.

3rd Quarter – 4:59: Rinse and repeat: Brown tried to drive at Oladipo, who ripped him easily.

3rd Quarter – 2:59: Brown grabbed an offensive rebound and tried to attack the paint, but Tucker got his hands into the play and stole it.

3rd Quarter – 0:44: Somewhat inexplicably given his struggles the rest of the quarter, Brown tried an incredibly difficult spin move between three Heat defenders. They came up with the turnover.

4th Quarter – 5:34: Oladipo picked Tatum’s pocket far too easily as Tatum tried to drive at him.

4th Quarter – 1:11: Tatum threw a bizarrely terrible pick-and-roll pocket pass to Grant Williams, which sailed away straight to the Heat.

So what did we learn? Primarily, it was bizarre to watch the Celtics make the same type of mistake time and time (and time and time) again.

“We got worse as the game went and still had a great opportunity,” Udoka said on Sunday. “So areas we can easily clean up and look to improve on that tomorrow.”

That’s great, but why do the Celtics keep driving into a crowd? And why do they keep making unforced errors as passers? Udoka noted that the Celtics are trying not to get sped up, but watching their best players make endless mistakes on simple things like dribbling and passing has been truly bizarre.


“I did a s— job taking care of the ball today,” Brown said on Saturday. “I’ve got to do better.”

If he and Tatum aren’t better — a lot better — the Celtics’ season very well might be over by the weekend.


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