Jayson Tatum certainly didn’t look like himself during the NBA Finals.
The Celtics star saw his shooting percentage fall to 36.7 percent during the series while averaging 21.5 points per game.
Over the weekend, Tatum reveled something that may have led to his mediocre play. The star forward told Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report that he played the entire series, and much of the postseason, with a partial fracture in his non-shooting wrist.
“It showed that I had a non-displaced fracture in my [left] wrist,” Tatum said during the interview on Sunday. “A non-displaced chip, so like I chipped a bone but it didn’t leave the surface, right? But it had shown that the bone had grown over it, so it had healed, but I was still in pain because I kept getting hit or falling on it. So I guess I played with somewhat of a fracture for like two months.”
Even though Tatum dealt with the issue throughout the postseason, his production in the Finals was notably worse. Tatum averaged 25.6 points per game in the playoffs as a whole, but just 21.5 PPG vs. the Warriors. His field-goal percentage also went down by six percentage points.
Tatum says he made sure to shield the media from knowing about the issue, wearing a wrist brace in private and taking it off when reporters were present.
“But after each game, I would have to wear a brace to shootaround, and I would take it off before the cameras saw me,” Tatum said. “And then pregame, taking my nap and putting it back on, just to make sure it was stable.”
This is now the second star to lose in the Finals to the Warriors and cite a broken bone after the fact. LeBron James announced after the conclusion of the 2018 Finals that he had been playing with a broken hand after punching a whiteboard following the Cavs’ Game 1 loss.