Jayson Tatum scored a game-high 50 points to lead the Boston Celtics to a 118-100 victory over the Washington Wizards in the NBA Play-In Tournament at TD Garden on Tuesday.
With the win, the Celtics have earned the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference and advance to play the second-seeded Brooklyn Nets in a best-of-seven playoff series.
Tatum scored 23 of his 50 points (14-for-32 from the field) in the third quarter as the Celtics completely turned the game around in the opening minutes of the quarter. Kemba Walker was equally crucial as the point guard contributed 29 points on 10-for-24 from the field, hitting three of his six 3-pointers in the opening minutes of the third.
Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 22 points on 25 shots while Russell Westbrook scored 20 points on just 6-for-18 shooting.
Here’s how it went down:
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Evan Fournier
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Robert Williams
The Celtics benefitted from a fair share of missed shots by the Wizards early on — Westbrook tip in, Alex Len layup and dunk — as Boston opened up a 15-9 lead midway through the quarter.
Tatum and Smart each hit a 3-pointer during that run as Boston finished the quarter hitting 50 percent (5-for-10) from long range.
Tatum’s second 3-pointer of the quarter gave Boston a 27-19 lead with 58 ticks left in the quarter.
The C’s took a 27-21 lead after the first, and shot 40 percent (10-for-25) from the floor.
Washington shot just 39 percent from the floor (9-for-23) while missing each of its four 3-point attempts. Westbrook was just 1-for-4 from the field while Beal was 1-for-5.
Smart led all scorers with seven points while Tatum added six, despite shooting 2-for-8 from the field. All five starters found the scoring column with Walker (five), Williams (four) and Fournier (three) making contributions.
C’s GO COLD
The Celtics’ offense got stagnant and settled for low-percentage shots all while Beal came alive for a much-improved second quarter.
The Wizards erased an eight-point deficit in a matter of four minutes and took a 39-37 lead 6:33 into the second.
Washington received contributions from its bench in the early going with Ish Smith (11 first-half points), Chandler Hutchinson and Rob Lopez helping erase the deficit. The Wizards’ bench outscored the Celtics 22-6 in the first half.
Beal then took over down the stretch with 11 of his 13 points in the second. Westbrook added eight points on 3-for-9 from the field.
The C’s missed eight straight shots before Walker stopped the bleeding with a bucket in transition.
Walker and Tatum, though, helped Boston erase what was an eight-point deficit with three minutes left before closing the gap to 54-52 at the half. Tatum scored 18 first-half points while Walker had 12.
Boston shot 7-for-24 in the second while missing nine consecutive 3-pointers. They finished the first half shooting 35 percent (17-for-49) from the floor and 23 percent (5-for-22) from long range.
Notably, the Celtics received an injury scare two different times in the quarter, too. First, it was Smart who limped off with what appeared to be an ankle injury, but he returned shortly after. Robert Williams, however, left for the locker room with 41 ticks left in the half with what appeared to be a leg injury. Williams missed the previous four games with a turf toe injury.
The Celtics put together a great start out of the half as they opened the third on a 9-2 run, which eventually turned into a 17-2 run behind Tatum and Walker.
Boston hit each of its first four 3-pointers (Walker had three) to take a 69-56 lead less than four minutes into the period.
Tatum led the Celtics the whole way as he scored 23 points in the third quarter alone. It gave Tatum 41 points in the first three quarters on 12-for-25 from the floor.
It also helped Boston take a double-digit lead, 90-80, into the final 12 minutes.
Walker’s trio of 3-pointers were the lone buckets the point guard scored in the period. He went into the fourth with 21 points.
Beal led the Wizards with 22 points to that point while Westbrook contributed 14 of his own.
RUNNING AWAY WITH IT
Washington cut the Boston lead to just seven points two minutes into the fourth, but the C’s used a Fournier 3-pointer during a mini 7-2 run to regain their 12-point lead.
Boston extended its lead to as much as 106-88 following a Tatum 3-pointer with 5:32 left.
The C’s put the game on ice shortly after with Walker hitting a fifth and sixth 3-pointer on consecutive possessions.
PLAY OF THE GAME
This is what started it all.
Some end of game stats: Boston shot 40 percent (38-for-96) from the field and 33 percent (15-for-45) from long range. Boston assisted on 20 of its 38 baskets.
Washington shot 44 percent (40-for-92) from the floor and 14 percent (3-for-21) from long range. The Wizards held a 56-38 advantage in points in the paint.
The Celtics will face the second-seeded Nets in the first round of the NBA playoffs while Wizards will face Pacers in the final play-in game with the winner claiming the No. 8 seed.