The Celtics and Jazz matchup highlighted the epic duel between Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum.
With this battle, NBA fans have seen a glimpse into the future of the NBA.
With 25 games left in the season for both the Celtics and Jazz, every game counts in the playoff race. Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell were certainly playing like it counted.
The two players coming out of the 2017 draft battled all night long. Tatum finished with 33 points and 11 boards on an efficient 13-20 from the field. Mitchell outscored Tatum dropping 37 points, however was a bit less efficient finishing 15-32 from the field but only 2-10 from three. Tatum and the Celtics would come out on top but that does not change the fact that the future of this league is developing right before our eyes.
Over the past few weeks, Jayson Tatum has been putting the league on notice. Tatum has averaged nearly 31 ppg over his past 11 games, leading the Celtics to a 9-2 record over that span. Tatum can go on some runs where defenders just can not guard him.
He can attack you in every which way on offense with unguardable stepback threes, strong drives to the hole, and a filthy midrange. This is why Tatum is capable of scoring 18 points in a quarter like he did last night. If the Jazz pressured Tatum on the perimeter, he would
Although Tatum and the Celtics prevailed over the Jazz, Mitchell looked just as unstoppable as Tatum last night. Mitchell would get a career-high 20 points in one quarter in the 2nd. The Celtics threw every defender they had it him with Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown guarding him all game.
But it just did not matter as there was not enough defense to be played to stop Mitchell from getting into the paint. When they collapsed on Mitchell, he could find the open man. For example:
If Mitchell keeps developing this aspect of his game he will be even more of a problem for years to come. Mitchell can already split any defense and get into the lane. But when defenses collapse he needs to be able to hit the big man. So if he keeps feeding Gobert like this, Mitchell will be even more unguardable.
What The Future Holds
Obviously we can see from last night how bright the future is going to be for Mitchell and Tatum. But there are so many other young players on the rise. Trae Young, Luka Doncic, Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, Devin Booker, Brandon Ingram, and many more are making these league special. The future looks very bright for this league, but the future seems to be closer than we might know.
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