Paul Pierce is no stranger to the occasional exaggeration when he’s describing NBA talent. But the way he has consistently boasted about Jayson Tatum resonates a little differently than his usual praise for NBA newbies. He doesn’t speak about the Celtics forward in terms of being a very good player.

Pierce believes Tatum’s game has the potential to surpass Celtic luminaries such as Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Larry Bird, and himself.

“I really believe he’s going to win a championship in Boston and end up one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Celtic to ever play this game,” Pierce said back in March. “He has that type of potential, man. … He’s got everything.”

Maybe so, but it certainly hasn’t manifested itself thus far in the NBA Finals, where Tatum has struggled mightily.

In the first two games, Tatum is averaging 20.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game. Not bad. That is until you factor in him shooting just 30.6 percent from the field, which is almost 15 percentage points lower than his season average (45.3 percent).

Boston will need the 24-year-old to shoot better going forward if the Celtics are to maintain control of the series with a win tonight.

That’s just one of several topics as part of the discussion and debate about Tatum heading into tonight’s pivotal Game 3.

Here are the three biggest questions Tatum faces heading into tonight against Golden State.


Why Has Tatum Struggled with His Shot? 

Tatum has proven himself to be one of the NBA’s better scorers because of his ability to get buckets in a multitude of ways. This past season, Tatum averaged a career-high 26.9 points per game, which ranked seventh in the NBA.

But beyond his overall scoring acumen, Tatum is no different than most NBA players when it comes to having a sweet spot or two on the court.

Finishing at the rim has been one of the knocks on Tatum early in his career. But the last two seasons, it's actually one of the more noticeable areas of growth in his game. He finished the regular season shooting 65.8 percent on shots taken five feet or less from the rim. Last season, he shot 65.9 percent at the rim, a 10.5-point jump from the previous season.