When the two were growing up in St. Louis, Bradley Beal saw Jayson Tatum put on some impressive basketball performances.
But after Tatum scored 50 points to guide the Boston Celtics past Beal’s Washington Wizards 118-100 on Tuesday night, giving Boston its 7th seed and a first-round NBA playoffs with Brooklyn on Saturday night. In Beal’s opinion, there was nothing the Wizards could do about it.
This was Tatum’s third 50-point performance in six weeks. He also went 17-for-17 from the foul line, as well as eight rebounds, four assists, a steal, and a block in 41 minutes. This included a 23-point explosion in the third quarter, which put Boston back in front for good.
A 20-4 Celtics second-half run opened the second half with Tatum outscoring the Wizards by just one point (26-23) in the third quarter. Adding to that, a 10-4 run to end the first half gave Boston a 16-point cushion, closing out the first half with the Wizards leading by eight.
However, while the Wizards did make some late cuts in the fourth quarter, the Celtics consistently answered, often coming from either Tatum or Kemba Walker, who also put on 29 points to help Boston reach a matchup with Brooklyn and Kyrie Irving.
For the Celtics, this season has been filled with ups and downs because of an unfortunate combination of injuries and COVID-19. That includes All-Star Jaylen Brown, who will be out for the remainder of the season after undergoing wrist surgery last week.
Yet Tuesday night’s game brought home to Boston what it can achieve when it’s clicking. Boston has made the Eastern Conference finals three of the last four seasons.
While having some of your own star players to match up with a team with a dynasty title favorite is important, Boston will hope that its performance against Brooklyn, a team favored to win the NBA championship this year, will be matched.