East Notes: Celtics, Jayson Tatum, Bucks, Damian Lillard, Hawks


Guard/forward Jayson Tatum may just be the best player in the NBA — or a least, the best American-born player, according to Celtics legend Paul Pierce.Jayson Tatum looks to drive vs Gordon Hayward (Getty)

“I already thought Joker [Nikola Jokic] is the best player right now,” Pierce said on a podcast this week, via Steve Aschburner of NBA.com. “He’s the best overall … but the best American player is Jayson Tatum. And I don’t really see, outside of [Stephen Curry], it’s not really a decent argument I feel that anybody can give.”

  • Boston is coming close to reaching coach Joe Mazzulla‘s goal of 50 3-point attempts per game, with an average of 48.3, Aschburner noted. “The Celtics are 3-1 when they launch 50 or more from the arc, 4-1 when they shoot between 40-49 and 4-1 when they take 39 or fewer,” he wrote.


The Bucks are 9-0 when Damian Lillard scores 20 or more points and 7-3 when Giannis Antetokounmpo does so (via Ashburner). In other words, things are going well for the NBA’s newest dynamic duo.

“Not his turn, my turn, but I’ve got to be effective while he’s doing what he’s doing,” Lillard said of Antetokounmpo. “Whether that’s my spacing or when they go double him and they throw it to me and I’m open, I’ve got to take and make those shots. So it’s a pick-your-poison type of situation where we can play off of each other.”

  • The Bucks are facing former teammate and current Celtics guard Jrue Holiday for the first time when the teams meet Wednesday. “It’s going to be really strange,” Antetokounmpo said, via Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But at the end of the day, you’ve got to do what you gotta do. It’s going to be strange seeing one of my brothers playing in a different jersey, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. It’s going to be weird for him to see us playing against us, too. We’ll see. We’ll see how it goes.”


The Hawks scored 152 points in Tuesday’s In-Season Tournament game vs. the Pacers … and still lost. That’s because they gave up 157, surrendering a 20-point lead along the way.

Two years removed from the Eastern Conference finals, they sit at No. 18 in the NBA.com Power Rankings. But it’s not all bad news. The Hawks are staying in games that often could go either way.

“Four of the Hawks’ (first) six losses were within five points in the last five minutes, eight of their 12 games have come against teams that currently have winning records, and they have a positive point differential for the season,” wrote John Schuhmann of NBA.com.

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