Jayson Tatum’s 50-Point Outburst Led The Celtics To A Play-In Win Over The Wizards

The Boston Celtics are the 7-seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Boston took on the Washington Wizards in the play-in tournament on Tuesday evening, and thanks to an All-NBA-level performance by Jayson Tatum, the Celtics will not need an extra game to know their playoff future. Tatum scored 50, his third game with at least 50 points this season, en route to a 118-100 win for the home team.

Boston found itself comfortable for essentially all of the first quarter. While Washington held onto the earliest of early leads, going up 5-3 less than two minutes into the game, the Celtics were able to pull ahead and stay ahead for the entirety of the frame. The Wizards, however, were able to patch together a run thanks to a surprisingly nice half from reserve guard Ish Smith off of the bench, chipping away at the lead throughout the second frame before going ahead a little more than halfway through.

Washington ultimately sat with a tenuous 54-52 lead as the two teams entered the locker room at the half. Bradley Beal (13 points) and Russell Westbrook (eight points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals) did their usual heavy lifting, with Smith’s 11 points providing a huge boost. The Celtics relied heavily on Jayson Tatum’s 18 points, while Kemba Walker pitched in 12 of his own.

And then, Tatum exploded in the third. The Celtics’ All-NBA forward dropped 23 points in the frame, giving the Celtics a 10-point lead entering the fourth quarter. Everything he tried to do seemed to work, carving up the Wizards’ defense with a steady diet of ultra-skilled 1-on-1 moves that led to jumpers.

Perhaps the most impressive moment, the one that truly hammered home that he was locked in, came when he attempted to draw a foul on Smith, who was doing everything he could to give Tatum zero room to work. Tatum looked for contact, did not get the call, and still hit a jumper, anyway.

Tatum cooled off a bit in the fourth, if only because it would have been very hard to have a second consecutive quarter like this. But as a team, the Celtics built the lead to as many as 22 points, making any effort by the Wizards to get back into the game for naught.

Tatum stuffed the stat sheet on the night: 50 points on 14-for-32 shooting while making all 17 of his free throw attempts. He also had eight rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a block. Walker was also outstanding, with 29 points and seven rebounds of his own. For Washington, four players scored in double-digits, led by 22 from Beal, but the team could not hit anything from deep, going 3-for-21 from three.

With the win, Boston will take on the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, with the first game scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 22, at 8 p.m. EST. The Nets won all three game in the season series.

As for the Wizards, they’ll have to take on the Indiana Pacers to learn their postseason future. Indiana trounced the Charlotte Hornets earlier in the night, 144-117. The two teams will play on Thursday evening with the winner going on to earn the 8-seed in the East and setting themselves up for a series with the Philadelphia 76ers.