Maxey is the recipient of the NBA's 2023-24 Sportsmanship Award! Maxey is the recipient of the NBA's 2023-24 Sportsmanship Award!

There will be a moment in this playoff run where Jayson Tatum hangs 40-plus on a helpless opponent and wills the Celtics to a thrilling triumph.

It may happen against the Cavaliers. Perhaps in the Eastern Conference Finals. Maybe in the Finals. But it will happen. Tatum is too lethal to shoot like this the entire way.

His shooting slump isn’t a concern short term. The Celtics should be able to cruise past the Cavaliers without him. But is it concerning long term? It’s no secret the Celtics need him to be outstanding to win a championship, but as long as he’s doing everything else extremely well, is that enough?

Probably not. In my opinion, the Celtics need Tatum to look like Tatum if they want to reach their ultimate goal. That doesn’t mean he has to take 30 shots, but it does mean he has to balance efficiency and aggressiveness.

So far in the playoffs, he’s averaging 21.2 points on 16 shots – both his lowest totals since 2019. He’s shooting 40.6 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3-point range – his lowest marks in the playoffs ever.

In the Celtics’ 120-85 Game 1 win over the Cavaliers on Tuesday, Tatum finished with 18 points on 7-of-19 shooting (0 of 5 from 3) and deferred to Jaylen Brown and Derrick White.

What gives? Well, it’s not all bleak. He’s averaging 10.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists and just 1.7 turnovers in the playoffs, with an impressive plus-minus of plus-16 per night. Many are half-jokingly calling him a role player, which is a funny way of saying he’s been quiet. But it’s not a stretch to say he’s blending in rather than standing out.