Washington Wizards star guard Bradley Beal was impressed with the performance Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum put up during their play-in tournament game. Tatum scored 50 points on Tuesday night as the Celtics beat the Wizards 118-100 to enter the playoffs.
"It didn't matter who was in front of him," said Beal, whose Wizards will head back home to face the Indiana Pacers in a winner-takes-all game for the eighth seed Thursday night. "That is something I have been trying to tell his ass for years.
It's tough when you guard him. He's 6-9, he can get his shot off, he's strong and can shoot the ball. "He's a three-level scorer. So you got to respect everything he does on the floor. I know a lot of his moves, and a lot of it I was there, but I am only 6-3.
I wish I was 6-9 with robotic arms. "He's a special talent, and I have been saying that since he was in diapers. It doesn't surprise me."
Tatum staying with both feet on the ground
Tatum delivered a superstar level performance against the Wizards but he was humble afterward.
"I don't know," Tatum said when asked if performances like this one have officially pushed him into the game's superstar class. "I guess it helps. I don't really get caught up in those who think I'm a superstar and those that don't.
What does that really mean? I know that my teammates, I've earned their respect. I've earned the respect of the guys I've played against and the coaches. "I believe in myself, and that's all that matters."
The Celtics will face No. 2 seeds Brooklyn Nets in the playoffs first round. "We've been through a lot, and so we're hardened in a lot of ways," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "We've been backs against the wall most of the year and [had] to play tonight to get into the playoffs just to earn the right to play probably the most talented team that's been assembled since I've been in the NBA.
"It takes a lot of effort, it takes a lot of togetherness and it takes staying together through tougher times. We'll get ready for Brooklyn starting Thursday when we get back together. We know that challenge. Those guys are the best of the best, and going into that, if I'm a fan and just a general fan of the NBA, I have a hard time seeing them lose.
So we're going to have to play great, we're going to have to play great together and we're going to have to be really, really sound on both ends of the floor."