Miami Heat Must Work To Prevent Tatum Transition And Mismatch Opportunities

Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics dribbles against P.J. Tucker #17 of the Miami Heat(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics dribbles against P.J. Tucker #17 of the Miami Heat(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

The Miami Heat head into what is sizing up to a be a must-win Game 5 matchup in their Eastern Conference Finals slugfest with the Boston Celtics. Losing Game 4 in an embarrassing way, the Miami Heat never even showed up to play, it seems.

Only scoring 18 points among their starting five guys, with two of them in P.J. Tucker and Max Strus not dropping in a single bucket, the Miami Heat must come out more engaged to start Game 5 in order to have a chance. That’s the bare minimum.

That also speaks more towards the offense. When it comes to the defense though, they must do the same, if not more.

Throughout this series, it has been well documented that Jayson Tatum has not been successful when guarded by P.J. Tucker. To be frank, he has struggled there.

The Boston Celtics know that too as in Game 4, they did everything possible to prevent that matchup from happening.

The Miami Heat have the means to stop Jayson Tatum or at least, slow him down. They have to make sure they are able to deploy it though.

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Again, it wasn’t made that hard to execute or accomplish by a poor Miami Heat team and a group of officials that seemed to want to make it easy for Boston, but that last part is neither here nor there at the moment.

On top of just Tucker though, you feel comfortable if it’s either P.J., Jimmy Butler, or Bam Adebayo tasked with the matchup. To that point, the Celtics seem to want to avoid that.

If you look at all of Tatum’s buckets in his 31-point Game 4 performance, none of them were scored while Adebayo, Butler, or Tucker, especially, were the primary or core defender. The Boston Celtics, not only, put Tatum in a position to be able to get away from them or get to an ideal matchup, but it seems they really focused on getting out in transition.

What that does is, not only, allow him to use his athleticism and size to score easier in the open court, but it fails to allow the Miami Heat defense to get back to their ideal matchup with Tatum. Needless to say, the Celtics put in the extra work to ensure that they didn’t see the defenders they didn’t want to see on Tatum.

It’s really that simple. The Miami Heat have to know this and they have to work just as hard to make sure that they get their ideal defender on him.

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Of course, that seems to be P.J. Tucker, which is who you absolutely want. But, if they can, at least, get Jimmy Butler or Bam Adebayo on him, if not Tucker, then that’s a win too.