Jayson Tatum scored 29 points as the Boston Celtics completed a 4-0 series sweep to eliminate the Brooklyn Nets from the NBA playoffs on Monday.
Kevin Durant delivered a towering 39-point display for the Nets, but it was not enough to stop the powerful Celtics’ line-up from sealing a 116-112 victory at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Boston’s balanced offense and battle-hardened defense once again proved too much for Brooklyn, who trailed from start to finish as a late rally from the home side came up just short.
“We knew who we were facing, we knew how talented they were, and we knew it was going to be a dogfight,” said Tatum, who endured a nervous final two minutes after fouling out as the Nets chipped away at the Celtics lead. “It was 4-0 but each game was back and forth and tough. We just believed in ourselves. We took it one game at a time and didn’t get too far ahead of ourselves,” Tatum added. Tatum was one of five Celtics players in double figures, with Jaylen Brown also coming up big with 22 points and point guard Marcus Smart adding 20 points with 11 assists.
Grant Williams delivered four three-pointers off the bench in a 14-point haul while Al Horford added 13. Second seeds Boston will now face either the defending NBA champions Milwaukee or Chicago in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. The Celtics’ clean sweep of Brooklyn – tipped as championship contenders before the season – is all the more remarkable given Boston’s indifferent early season form.
As recently as February, Boston were languishing in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, well outside the automatic playoff places.“It took us a minute, but when we got our full team, we were right there,” Tatum said. “We stayed composed, we stayed together, we didn’t lose sight of what we were trying to accomplish and we haven’t looked back since.” The Nets meanwhile will go back to the drawing board after a season that promised so much ended in a first round exit from the playoffs. —APP