(Dallas) There have been two versions of Jayson Tatum during the NBA Finals so far.

First, the first version, who only makes 31.6% of his shots from the floor (12-for-38), by far the worst efficiency rate of all the starters in this series between his Boston Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks. Then, the second version, which ranks second in the final in total rebounds and leads the series in assists.

Adding it all up, the Celtics seem entirely happy with what they see from Tatum, as usual. The Boston squad holds a 2-0 lead in the final heading into the third match, Wednesday evening in Dallas. The best team in the NBA this season is therefore halfway to the 18th title in its history.

“I realize I have to be more efficient,” Tatum said Tuesday. I need to shoot the ball better and I wouldn’t disagree on that. I don’t let that bother me though. I try to always find ways to make an impact in a match and dominate in other aspects of the game.”

It’s not a good idea to go a little too deep into Tatum’s stats during this series, or even adding those from the 2022 NBA Finals, due to the sample size. He only participated in eight final matches and that is not enough to draw conclusions.

That said, even though his efficiency is surprisingly poor—no player who has attempted as many shots as Tatum in the Finals in the last 60 years has posted a lower percentage—he is on the verge of something historic. If his per-game averages of 17 points, 10 rebounds and 8.5 assists hold up for the rest of the series, he would become the second player in history to finish the Finals with those numbers.

The other is LeBron James, who accomplished the feat on four occasions.

“Criticism is the ultimate beauty,” said Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla. It is a sign of ultimate respect. I really like the way Jayson handled this. It’s simply a testament to who he is. »

It’s good news for the Mavericks to have successfully countered Tatum in the first two duels.

The bad news, of course, is that it didn’t matter much. Tatum got on the scoresheet in other ways and the Celtics won their first two games at home to start the Finals.

“I think he’s one of the best players in the world,” insisted Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd. You’re just trying to make things difficult for him. That’s all you can do. It’s about defending the first movement, the second, the third and contesting your shot. Our guys are doing it at a high pace, trying to make it difficult for him. »

From an efficiency standpoint, these two games in the Finals constitute Tatum’s worst two-game stretch this season. He was slightly better in mid-January, when he shot 31.7% against the Denver Nuggets and then the Houston Rockets.

After this short series of failures, Tatum had scored 39 points. The Mavericks should know that, because it was against them. So they’re probably assured that Tatum’s bad streak won’t last much longer.

“Over time, you learn to deal with the outside noise and the extra attention, whether it’s positive or negative,” Tatum said. I’m intelligent. I know when I am doing things at a high level and when I need to do them better. I am aware of what is happening. At the same time, I just want to stick to the basics and focus on winning the next game. This is what is most important. »