Tatum on fire as Celtics stun Wizards
Jayson Tatum erupted for 50 points, including a perfect 17 of 17 from the free-throw line, as Boston Celtics booked its place in the playoffs on Tuesday with a 118-100 win over the Washington Wizards as the NBA’s play-in tournament got under way.
Tatum produced a virtuoso performance to outshine Wizards triple-double king Russell Westbrook as the Celtics advanced to a first round playoff series against the second seeded Brooklyn Nets.
The Wizards will now host the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, with the winner of that game facing a first round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, the top seed from the Eastern Conference.
Bradley Beal led the Wizards’ scoring with 22 points while Westbrook finished with 20 points.
In another match, Indiana looked red hot in a 144-117 blowout to eliminate the Charlotte Hornets in Tuesday’s early play-in game.
Oshae Brissett scored 23 points and Doug McDermott added 21 as the Pacers got off to a fast start and never eased up in a comprehensive wire-to-wire victory in Indianapolis.
Only one win had separated the ninth-placed Pacers from the 10th-ranked Hornets during the regular season which wrapped up on Sunday.
However a gulf in class soon became apparent on Tuesday as the Pacers sprinted into a 40-24 lead by the end of the first quarter.
By halftime the Pacers had opened up a 24-point cushion to effectively kill the contest against a strangely subdued Hornets line-up.
The NBA used a play-in tournament for the playoffs this season after deploying the format last year when the pandemic-disrupted campaign was completed in the Orlando bubble in Florida.
The results: Boston Celtics bt Washington Wizards 118-100; Indiana Pacers bt Charlotte Hornets 144-117.
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