Tatum on fire as Celtics stun Wizards

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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.

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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.

Dominant

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.

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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.

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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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