Jayson Tatum is built for the postseason!
The Boston Celtics star willed his team to a 118-100 win over the Washington Wizards, with a sublime scoring performance, dropping 50 points to seal the No.7 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, setting up a first-round date with the Brooklyn Nets.
Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook combined for 42 points on 16-of-43 shooting and will now take on the Indiana Pacers in a one-off game for a shot at the No.8 seed.
Tatum torches the Wizards
"Be the best player on the floor," Jayson Tatum on his mentality heading into the game.
"That's what I told myself coming into this game, do whatever it takes to win and be the best player on the floor and I felt like if I did that we'd have a good chance to win."
He more than delivered.
TATUM. UNREAL. 😳- NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 19, 2021
He's got 50 PTS! pic.twitter.com/vejbpbKOQU
With Jaylen Brown injured for the rest of the season, the Celtics needed every one of Tatum's 50 points as he knocked down 14-of-32 from the field, 5-of-12 from the 3-point line and 17-of-17 at the free-throw. line, adding eight rebounds four assists and two blocks.
It was his fifth game with at least 40 points this season and his third 50-point effort.
Trailing 54-52 at the half, the Celtics blew the game open beginning the second half on a 22-4 run, with the 23-year-old scoring 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the third quarter alone to put the Celtics in front by 10 heading into the final frame.
Tatum put his team on his back with a signature post-season performance, but on a night where he wasn't shooting the lights out, his aggressiveness made the difference as he punished the Wizards driving the rim, getting to the line time after time.
The Celtics are 7-3 this season when Tatum shoots 10+ free throws.
A vintage night for Kemba
After missing the Celtics' final three games of the regular season, Kemba Walker came back with a bang.
The point guard played Robin to Tatum's Batman, finishing with 29 points, seven rebounds and two steals, knocking down six 3-pointers and a string of vintage Kemba buckets.
+✌️ pic.twitter.com/8vwoe7O5Qb- Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 19, 2021
Walker combined with Tatum to score 17 of the first 19 points of the second half and through three quarters, they combined for 62 of Boston's 90 points.
Russ and Beal held quiet
Still nursing a hamstring injury, which saw him miss three of the Wizards' final four regular-season games, Bradley Beal struggled to get going against the Celtics, finishing with 22 points on 10-of-25 shooting.
Meanwhile, Westbrook found the going tough against the Celtics' bigger defenders, who clogged the paint and forced him to shoot. He recorded 20 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and four turnovers on 6-of-18 from the field.
sheeeeeesh, @russwest44 pic.twitter.com/woiNebz9sB- Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) May 19, 2021
With their star duo struggling, it was the bench duo of Ish Smith and Danial Gafford that kept them in the game in the first half, with Smith recording 17 points, eight rebounds and two steals, while Gafford chipped in 12 points five boards.
Wizards still alive
The Wizards will now host the Indiana Pacers, who cruised past the Charlotte Hornets in the 9-10 game in a one-off showdown for the No.8 seed.
The winner of that game will face the No.1 seed Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs.
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