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Jayson Tatum shrugs off hard foul by Caleb Martin: "It's playoff basketball"

Celtics-Heat Game 1 gets chippy at the end as Jayson Tatum leads Boston to blowout win
Celtics-Heat Game 1 gets chippy at the end as Jayson Tatum leads Boston to blowout win 05:10

BOSTON -- There wasn't much drama over the first 47 minutes of Sunday's Celtics blowout win over the Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first round. But things got pretty heated with just over a minute left when Jayson Tatum was hip-checked by Miami's Caleb Martin.

Thankfully, Tatum popped right up and after a small kerfuffle on the floor, and the Celtics walked off with a 114-94 victory to take a 1-0 series. But Martin's hard foul on Boston's best player will just add some more fuel to this heated rivalry.

The play happened as the final clock ticked under a minute and the Celtics held on to a 110-94 lead. Miami's Bam Adebayo attempted a short jumper over Kristaps Porzingis that came up short and sent Tatum crashing for the board. Unfortunately, Martin came flying in and sent Tatum crashing to the floor instead.

Martin delivered a hip-check that took Tatum's legs out from under him and sent the C's star down hard. Tatum landed on his back and everyone inside TD Garden held their breath waiting for the franchise player to bounce back up.

Fortunately, that bounce-back took just a split second, as Tatum was back on his feet just as quickly as he went down. And just as quickly, Jaylen Brown got in Martin's face, who was trying to give Tatum a hand up. Brown wasn't having any of that.

Brown slapped Martin's hand away from Tatum, which started a small scrum on the floor. The two were separated and both got hit with technical fouls. 

Brown already had issues with Miami and "Heat Culture" earlier this season, so he was ready to step in against his nemesis when the moment called. It's exactly what you want to see out of Brown -- or any Celtics teammates -- when someone on the other team takes some liberties with Tatum. 

And Tatum made sure to go over to his Brown and thank him for having his back, before he fired up the crowd on his way to the free-throw line and sank both of his shots from the charity stripe. Tatum wasn't phased by the episode, and shrugged it off after Boston's win. 

"Just understanding it's playoff basketball," Tatum said after his monster performance. "It's a physical game. Playing against a physical team. [Stuff] is going to happen. It's not the last time I'm probably going to get hit like that or fouled in this series. So, you know, I wasn't hurt. You get hit like that, you just get up. And I knew we're in the bonus, so go down there and knock the free throws down."

Boston head coach Joe Mazzulla obviously had a unique take on the ordeal. A fan of chaos, he just sat back and let it all play out.

"I was waiting to see what he was going to do," said Mazzulla. "I was kind of excited about the whole situation. I enjoyed watching it."

Martin said that Jrue Holiday bumped him while going for the rebound, causing him to fly into Tatum, and the overhead angle of the replay seems to confirm as much. He also wasn't too miffed with Brown, because he would have done the same thing if one of his Heat teammates was on the floor after a hard foul.

"I know I hit him pretty hard, but momentum was carrying me and I think I got pushed into that direction," Martin said. "Hard foul, tried to help him up, that's just what it is. If Jimmy [Butler] was on the floor, I'd have done the same thing [Brown did], I'm sure." 

Tatum may be a bit bruised from his tumble, but at least he has a few extra days before the Celtics and the Heat square off in Game 2 on Wednesday night. And he'll be coming off one of his finest postseason performances, after leading the way for Boston with a Game 1 triple-double that saw him drop 23 points, pull down 10 rebounds, and dish out 10 assists against Miami. 

"His mindset and approach throughout the game was great," Mazzulla said of Tatum's stellar performance. "I thought he played with great patience, thought he picked and chose his spots very well. I thought he took what the defense gave him and found the balance of creating for himself and for others. So to fight for that discipline on the offensive end, on both ends of the floor really, is a huge key to this series."

We'll see what Tatum has in store for Miami in Game 2, and if there are any more fireworks between the two rivals on Wednesday night.

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