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Tatum drops 50 to help Celtics secure the 7th seed, beat the Wizards 118-100 in Play-In Tournament

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Jayson Tatum is a bad man. Celtics advance to the playoffs to play the Brooklyn Nets.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics are heading back to the playoffs as they officially are slotted in as the seventh seed, locking the team into a matchup with the Brooklyn Nets after tonight’s 118-100 win in the 2021 Play-In Tournament against the Washington Wizards. Jayson Tatum led all players with 50 points, setting a Play-In Tournament record for the most points in one such game. Bradley Beal dropped 22 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists for Washington who will have an opportunity to fight against the Indiana Pacers for the 8th seed on Thursday.

The Celtics were led by none other than Jayson Tatum, The Man™️. In a matchup against fellow St. Louis native (I know, I’m sorry everyone keeps bringing this up) Brad Beal, Tatum more than doubled the former’s point total. Although shots didn’t fall early, Tatum kept getting downwind to the basket. Marcus Smart got off to a solid start, but he rolled his ankle. Robert Williams also got off to a great start defensively, and then he had a hard fall that eventually incapacitated him for the rest of the game. Your 2020-21 Boston Celtics, ladies and gentlemen.

Kemba Walker had a poor shooting start, but he upped the intensity after receiving a technical foul in the second quarter. He didn’t look back once en route to posting 29 points and 7 rebounds. The Celtics absolutely need this sustained production from him and at least one of Smart/Evan Fournier to be reliable and consistent on the offensive end to have a puncher’s chance against their next competition.

The third quarter was something special. Kemba set the tone early with some incredible plays both as a scorer and a passer, and Tatum took over the rest of the way. Tatum posted 23 points in the third quarter alone, giving him 41 before the fourth quarter even started.

In a twist that everyone absolutely no one saw coming, Ish Smith (17 points) did some serious damage to the Celtics. He came off the bench and torched Boston for 11 first half points to be outscored on his team only by the second-leading scorer in the NBA. Boston’s bench wasn’t exactly reliable tonight, which I suspect will be a point of emphasis in the offseason (again).

As for the usual suspects, Russell Westbrook was a menace. He had 12 rebounds in just the first half, finishing with a line of 20 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists. He pushed the pace early and often, and he created a level of intensity that his teammates matched as the game wore on. Naturally, Bradley Beal scored a lot, but it’s clear that he wasn’t close to 100%.

Some areas of note:

  • Semi Ojeleye, largely out of the rotation over the last few weeks/months, got the call early off the bench, which was pretty unexpected. He didn’t see the floor in the second half
  • Boston’s defense was fine, and freethrows helped the team stay in striking distance after a tough second quarter despite shooting 35% from the field in the first half
  • Romeo Langford got Ojeleye’s spot minutes in the second half. He was very, very solid in his minutes, especially defensively in the fourth quarter
  • Boston got a pretty friendly whistle tonight . . . until the fourth quarter. Then the Celtics were called for four team fouls in the first two minutes of the quarter
  • Tatum attempted 17 freethrows. Superstar-level stuff from our superstar-level player

The Boston Celtics are now officially the 7th seed, and they’ll take on former PG Kyrie Irving and the No. 2 Brooklyn Nets starting on Saturday, May 22nd at 8PM EST. Prepare yourself since now for all of the “narratives” coming from national media. As always, stay locked in on CelticsBlog for all the playoff coverage you need.