Paul Pierce compared Jayson Tatum’s Game 6 to his Game 7 in 2008


“This game gives me that pp lbj game 7 vibe.”

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Jayson Tatum shoots over Bobby Portis Jr. in the second half. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The Celtics’ Game 6 win over the Bucks was one for the ages, with two superstars trading key buckets in crunch time.

Jayson Tatum beat Giannis Antetokounmpo, 46-44, to keep Boston’s season alive and force a Game 7. It was also a historic feat for what is arguably the most historic franchise in the league. Tatum’s 46 points in Friday’s game was the second-most ever by a Celtic in an elimination game, with Sam Jones’ 47-point performance against Cincinnati in Game 7 of the 1963 Eastern Division Finals being the only one to surpass it.

Tatum also became the first Celtic to score 40 or more points in an elimination game since 2008, when Paul Pierce scored 41 points to lift the Celtics over the Cavaliers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

As Pierce left that day, so did LeBron James, who scored 45 points in a loss. Watching Game 6 on Friday, the Celtic great couldn’t help but think of the past.

“This game gives me the pp lbj game 7 vibe,” Pierce wrote in a tweet.

Aside from 40+ points, there are some similarities between the star performances in Friday’s Game 6 and Game 7 of 2008. Both Pierce and Tatum got a majority of their scores on jump shots. Pierce went 13 of 23 from the field and scored all but two of his baskets from outside the suit as he scored 4-on-6 from 3-point range. Tatum took a few more shots in color, with seven of his 17 brands coming from there. But his jump shots were a killer for the Bucks as he hit 9-for-19 on off-color shots, including 7-for-15 from behind the arc.

On the other hand, Antetokounmpo had a scoring approach similar to James’ in 2008. In that Game 7, James relied on his inside scoring as he struggled from behind the arc (3-of-11) and 11 2-pointers as he made 14 of 29 went off the field. Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo went to 14 from 30 in Friday’s game, making all but two of his shots from inside the arc. Both players were aggressive and often came to the free-throw line in their respective performances. James went off the line 14-on-19 in the 2008 game, while Antetokounmpo went off the strip 14-on-15.

Tatum didn’t get on the line as much as James, Antetokounmpo, or Pierce did in their respective performances. He went 5-for-7 from the free throw line in Friday’s game while Pierce went 11-for-12 from the line in Game 7 of 2008.

However, where Tatum’s performance stands out from everyone else is how much he made in the fourth quarter. In the first three quarters of Friday’s game, Tatum was in a rhythm and scored 30 points, giving the Celtics a 12-point lead, who moved into fourth place. In 2008, Pierce had 35 points in the fourth quarter of Game 7.

Tatum upped his game on Friday in the fourth, scoring 16 points on 5 for 7, giving the Celtics a steady hand as the Bucks ran behind Antetoukounmpo’s 12 points in the fourth quarter. Pierce, on the other hand, was slowed in the fourth quarter of Game 7 in 2008, shooting just twice in that quarter to score six points.

The Celtics may need another performance like this from their star player to get past the Bucks. In the three games Boston won that series, Tatum scored at least 29 points, showing the Celtics need big performances from their big players to win Game 7. Paul Pierce compared Jayson Tatum’s Game 6 to his Game 7 in 2008

Matthew Hallett

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