Jayson Tatum, Paul Pierce have a moment before Game 7




 

BOSTON - Jayson Tatum is no stranger to playing in front of a TD Garden crowd full of folks who are fans of his game.

Among the biggest Tatum supporters - and a Celtics legend as well - is Paul Pierce, who was in attendance.

During an interview with NBC Sports Boston's Mike Gorman, Tatum was heading back to the locker room only to stop and acknowledge Pierce's presence with a brief exchange.

Although only 20 years old, Tatum has shown a great appreciation and understanding for Pierce's game its impact on the franchise, qualities that he has shown glimpses of having despite being in his first NBA season.

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"It's a great feeling, someone like that who speaks highly of you," Tatum told NBC Sports Boston. "I really appreciate the nice things he said."

In an interview with NBC Sports Boston earlier this season, Pierce spoke glowingly about Tatum - and this was before he had played his first regular season game.

"He looks like an older version of me, when I started doing the step-back and stuff," Pierce said in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Boston. "When I'm watching him, he looks like a mature version of my game, like sixth, seventh, eighth year. He sees the defense. He knows what's going to happen before it happens. He understands his position, footwork, his step-back (jumper) is there. His offensive repertoire seems complete. The sky is the limit for that kid."

While Tatum had a strong season which earned him a near-unanimous selection (he was one vote shy) of being named to the NBA's All-Rookie First Team, he has been even more dynamic in the playoffs, establishing himself as the team's leading scorer.

"Just the playoffs, that's when … I have the most fun," Tatum said. "It's my first year, going against the Greek Freak (Giannis Antetokounmpo) and LeBron in the playoffs. I'm just having fun out there."

Tatum's idea of "fun" isn't for everyone, of course.

"I want to be like those guys are one day," Tatum said. "So just to have to go through them … I appreciate it."

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