After a season filled with injuries, the league-lead in games missed due to COVID, and several disappointing losses, the Celtics found themselves in the play-in tournament, fighting to earn themselves a playoff spot.
And boy, did they earn that tonight.
The Boston Celtics defeated the Washington Wizards, 118-100, to clinch the 7-seed in the Eastern Conference and the matchup against the 2-seed Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs.
Tonight’s game can be described in two words: Jayson Tatum.
Jayson Tatum scored 50 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 2 blocks on 14-of-32 shooting from the floor and 17-of-17 from the free throw line. Whether it was attacking the basket or isolating for a stepback 3-pointer, Tatum was in his bag from start to finish.
JT knew what was on the line tonight and how many critics were doubting the Celtics with Jaylen Brown out as Boston struggled down the stretch of the regular season. It also didn’t hurt knowing was standing across those battle lines in his childhood buddy Bradley Beal. Those bragging rights will live on forever.
Alongside Tatum, the Celtics got a vintage Kemba Walker performance at the perfect time. Walker finished the game with 29 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals while making 6-of-14 from downtown. With Brown out and a formidable test in the Brooklyn Nets ahead, the Celtics will need Cardiac Kemba to be present every night.
Outside of Tatum and Walker, the only other Celtic in double-figures was Tristan Thompson off the bench, who finished with a productive 12 points and 12 rebounds following Robert Williams re-aggravating his turf toe injury after landing awkwardly on Tatum’s foot.
Game 1 of Celtics and Nets will tip-off on Saturday at 8:00PM ET on ABC.