Jayson Tatum wants to keep Pacers from bouncing back on glass


“At this point in the season, it’s whatever you’ve got to do to help the team win,” Tatum said.

Jayson Tatum flexed some muscle on the boards in Game 2, helping the Celtics outrebound the Pacers.

INDIANAPOLIS — Jayson Tatum has been a workhorse for the Celtics this postseason, leading the team in minutes (40), points (25.2), rebounds (10.2), and assists (5.6) per game.

With Kristaps Porzingis (calf) out and Luke Kornet (wrist) doubtful for Game 3, Tatum was set to add another set of responsibilities to his plate as a small-ball center on certain possessions when Al Horford was going to be on the bench.

Tatum said playing the five is an adjustment, but also noted that the Celtics have been preparing for scenarios like this one.

“At this point in the season, it’s whatever you’ve got to do to help the team win,” Tatum said. “It doesn’t feel unnatural, but it is something different that we’ve worked on and talked about throughout the season in practices and things like that. So, it’s not like a shock or anything like that.”

The Celtics still managed to outrebound the Pacers in Game 2 despite the injuries. Horford led the way with 10 rebounds (in 25 minutes), with Tatum chipping in six. A strong group effort resulted in five Celtics grabbing four rebounds or more, despite being playing with undersized lineups at times. The Pacers didn’t have anyone, including 6-foot-11-inch center Myles Turner, grab more than five rebounds.

Tatum’s impact on the glass is about more than just how many rebounds he tracks down, he said. Boxing out Indiana’s bigs so others can have a shot to help when they crash the boards is also important.

“We’ve got to rebound. And maybe, it’s not always, ‘I’m getting it,’ ” Tatum said. “I’ve got to make sure I’m boxing out [Isaiah] Jackson or Turner, whoever I am guarding and you know five guys got to be in the paint and it’s your job to put a body on a man and somebody else to grab the ball.”

Haliburton hobbling

Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (hamstring) was expected to miss Game 3, according to The Athletic.

Haliburton, who is averaging 18.7 points, 8.2 assists, and 4.8 rebounds this postseason, missed 10 games during the regular season with a left hamstring injury.

“Obviously, other guys tend to step up more whenever somebody is out,” Tatum said. “More guys get an opportunity. More freedom, maybe a bigger role. So, you’ve just got to expect those other guys to play with more freedom especially on the offensive end.”

The Celtics also listed Jrue Holiday (non-COVID illness) as questionable.

Home sweet home

The Pacers had yet to lose a game at home this postseason. Tatum pointed to Indiana’s home-court advantage as a reason for the Celtics to stay focused.

“I think Game 3 is always the toughest just because you are going to a new environment, their first home game,” Tatum said. “Obviously they’re excited to be back home and we expect a great atmosphere. They’ve been really good at home, so we’ve got to be that much better.”

Tatum also mentioned that the Pacers fell behind 2-0 to the Knicks before eventually eliminating New York in seven games during the previous round.

“It’s not time to relax,” Tatum said. “They were in this situation last round and they ended up winning. So, the series is far from over and it’s a good test for us tonight.”

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