Jayson Tatum Rails Against In-Season Tournament Tiebreaker

Tatum said running up the score for the sake of a tiebreaker "didn't feel right."

BYBen Mock
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Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers: Quarterfinals - 2023 NBA In-Season Tournament

Jayson Tatum has become the latest NBA star to speak out against the In-Season Tournament tiebreaker rules. “We was in the game and I was like, I remember I tapped, I think it was Torrey Craig. I was like ‘yo bro, I don’t really want to be out here right now.’ Cause we were up 30 going into the fourth. If it was a Wednesday I would have been sitting on the bench and the younger guys would have gotten in. It just didn’t feel right," Tatum told SB Nation's Point Break podcast.

The primary tie-breaker for the in-season tournament was point differential. This meant that come the final games of the group stage, teams were running up the score as much as they could to try and make the next round. This led to the bizarre, and uncomfortable, scenes of full starting lineups playing late into games with 30- or 40-point scoring gaps. Boston began fouling Andre Drummond so much to force him to shoot three throws that their coach openly apologized mid-game to his counterpart in Chicago.

Read More: Charles Barkley Invokes Florida State As Suns Crash Out Of In-Season Tournament On Controversial Call

In-Season Tournament A Success, But Players Hate The Tiebreaker

As mentioned, Tatum is just the latest player to speak out against the bizarre rule. The Celtics kept their starters in throughout the fourth quarter despite starting the frame up 29. Similarly, the Knicks scored 35 in the fourth quarter against the five-win Hornets to ensure they secured the Eastern Conference wildcard spot on point differential.

"It was interesting. I don't really like it. We were focused, at first, just about winning. The last couple of minutes it feels weird. At a certain point, you just start chasing points, doing all that. So it kind of messes with the integrity of the game a little bit," the Knicks' Josh Hart said. "To be honest, it was a little weird, but the ultimate goal was to come out and get a win tonight, and that's what we did. It's tough because that's just not how the game is supposed to be played. You've got to respect your opponents," the Celtics' Jaylen Brown added.

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About The Author
Benjamin Mock (they/them) is a sports and culture writer working out of Philadelphia. Previously writing for the likes of Fixture, Dexerto, Fragster, and Jaxon, Ben has dedicated themselves to engaging and accessible articles about sports, esports, and internet culture. With a love for the weirder stories, you never quite know what to expect from their work.