Jayson Tatum showed up in a big game just like a franchise cornerstone should.
Tatum took over in the second half, sparking a 17-2 Celtics run to open the half that decided the game, and scoring 32 of his 50 points after halftime. Washington threw everything they had at him, including fellow St. Louis native Bradley Beal and a host of double teams, but it did not matter.
“I wanted to get to the playoffs,” Tatum said after the game. “And I ain’t wanna lose to Brad and hear about it for the rest of my career either.”
Boston will now face Brooklyn in the first round of the playoffs, with the first game, Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern in Brooklyn (ABC).
Tatum put up 18 in the first half, but he and the entire Celtics team struggled to knock down shots in the first 24 minutes — the Celtics were 0-of-12 from three in the second quarter. Or, look at Boston’s first-half shot chart.
Boston's shot chart in the first half. Just brutal beyond three feet, and not getting enough at the rim either. pic.twitter.com/JPC2EqDgcB
— Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher) May 19, 2021
Washington started slowly as well but got a spark from Ish Smith that changed the energy, and Beal went to work. Beal finished with 22 points on the night but needed 25 shots to get there.
Russell Westbrook finished the game with 20 points but needed 18 shots to get there, bothered at times by Tatum’s defense. Except nothing bothered him on this putback, which was the Wizards’ highlight of the night.
BRODIE PUTBACK 😤 pic.twitter.com/iqcdddJmg5
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 19, 2021
Despite Boston’s woeful shooting, Washington led by just two — 54-52 — at the half.
That’s when Tatum took over — just like an All-NBA player should — and pushed Boston into the playoffs.