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Garden Report: Jayson Tatum, Celtics win play-in tournament over Wizards

The Celtics exploded behind Jayson Tatum’s historic “playoff” performance, but rotation and injury questions remain.

Washington Wizards Vs Boston Celtics At TD Garden Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Jayson Tatum’s 50-point performance on Tuesday in a blowout win over the Wizards to enter the NBA Playoffs would stand among the most dominating playoff performances ever. Only the NBA has placed the play-in tournament in limbo between regular season and playoff status. It’s unclear what prominence Tatum’s game will hold all-time, much less what it’ll lead to given the Nets’ heavy status as favorites next round, along with injury and rotation questions that the Garden Report debated on CLNS Media.

Celtics Wizards Recap: Tatum 50 points Lead Boston vs Washington

Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum combined for nearly 80 points and led a 17-2 run out of halftime after Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III fell with second quarter injuries. The Wizards overcame an early deficit to lead at halftime, and Boston struggled from the field overall. Their defense stifled Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal though, with Tristan Thompson contributing 12 points and 12 rebounds with Williams out for the second half with turf toe. The Celtics’ 118-100 win clinched them the 7 seed and a first round matchup against the Brooklyn Nets, which begins Saturday at 8 EST.

Can Romeo Langford Help the Celtics In the Playoffs?

Brad Stevens went with Aaron Nesmith, Semi Ojeleye and Payton Pritchard off the bench after the Celtics built an early lead vs the Wizards. It failed and Washington soared to a lead into halftime, with Marcus Smart going to the bench with an injury and pulling Romeo Langford into action. Stevens decided to sit Ojeleye for the rest of the game when Langford returned, and Langford provided positive defensive minutes in an eventual blowout win that moves the Celtics on to the Nets in round one. Without Robert Williams III, who went down again on Tuesday, more rotation questions emerge beyond the backup wing spot where Langford showed signs yesterday. Will Ojeleye get another chance? Will Grant Williams get center minutes? How deep into his rotation can Stevens go and still expect wins? The Garden Report debates.

Will Robert Williams III Return from Injury vs Nets?

“We’ve said all year that our only chance was to get healthy at the right time. We’re not because Jaylen (Brown) is obviously out,” Head Coach Brad Stevens said. “But if we can get Rob back and a good couple days of prep. It’ll be a fun challenge to go up against the best.”

Celtics starting big man, Robert Williams chased down a rebound from a blocked shot and got tripped up over his and Jayson Tatum’s feet late in the second quarter. As a result, his injured left foot planted hard as his injured toe absorbed considerable weight, leaving him to hobble to the locker room and remain out after only playing a little over a minute into the second half. Williams finished the night with 4 PTS, 4 REBS,1 BLK.

“Rob hyperextended that toe. He felt it pretty good,” Stevens said postgame. “He tried to get back and play. He’ll just get treatment and see what happens. It’s not enjoyable.” The Garden Report discusses what Williams means to the Celtics rosters, what does this means for their playoff chances vs the Nets, and how they can adjust.

Can Celtics Win ONE GAME vs Nets in Playoffs?

With the Celtics 118-10 win over the Wizards during NBA’s play-in tournament, it will be Brooklyn vs Boston on Saturday night, 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

“Those guys are the best of the best, and going into that, if I’m a fan and just a general fan of the NBA, I have a hard time seeing them lose,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said postgame. “So we’re going to have to play great, we’re going to have to play great together, and we’re going to have to be really, really sound on both ends of the floor.”

The Garden Report analyzes the matchup and if the Celtics have any chance of avoiding a sweep or even pulling an upset. They also debate if this was the best case for the Celtics with Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving not getting much playing time together ahead of time due to injures. Also because the 76ers, who have Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Ben Simmons and former MVP candidate Joel Embiid, have been playing with great continuity all season long and will cause matchup problems.

Although, it doesn’t get much better with the Nets. In their three matchups this season, the Celtics are 0-3, winning by an average of 15.0 points. Irving played in all three meetings while Durant and Harden played in one meeting each. It also doesn’t help that the Celtics will be without All-Star Jaylen Brown and possibly starting center Robert Williams.

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