BOSTON — Jayson Tatum hit a buzzer beater layup to beat the Brooklyn Nets in dramatic fashion Sunday night—the final score, 115-114. Boston Celtics take game 1 in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
With only 20 seconds left in the game, the Celtics down 1, ball Kevin Durant’s hands with Tatum defending him. Tatum plays suffocating defense which forces Durant to miss a contested shot. Celtics get the rebound. Coach Ime Udoka chooses not to call a timeout and let them play. Jaylen Brown then drives and kicks it out to Smart, Smart pump fakes and dishes it to a cutting Tatum who finishes it with no seconds left in regulation.
“When he took that dribble we just kind of made eye contact. He made a great pass,” said Tatum. “It doesn’t get any better than that. A buzzer-beater in a playoff game at home.”
Coming into this series, critics gave a side eye to the second seeded Celtics as they might be too outmatched for the Nets superstars KD and Kyrie Irving. But with Tatum finishing with 31 points, it’s clear that he’s willing to step up to the challenge.
The game was close throughout, many lead changes, back-and-forth battles, and clutch shots by both teams. Former Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, hit multiple three’s down the stretch, with each shot, looked like a dagger for the Celtics. Irving finished with 39 points, sending middle fingers to Celtics fans in the garden. Irving received boo’s from the start of the first quarter all the way to the end.
“It’s the dark side… embrace it!” said Irving about receiving the hostility.
As for Durant, he finished with 23 points with a relatively quiet night for his standards. The Celtics began double teaming or sending help anytime the ball was in his hands. That forced KD to kick it to either Irving or another teammate to make a play. He only hit 1 three pointer, but nobody is expecting that to happen again in game 2.
Both teams pretty much only played 8 players. Points wise, neither squad got that much production. But for the Celtics starting five, they all contributed. Al Horford and Marcus Smart both finished with 20 points. Smart also dishing the game winning assist. Horford stepping up as the number one center because of the absence of Robert Williams (meniscus tear). Jaylen Brown finished 23 points.
Although the Nets shot better from the field, the Celtics dominated the paint on both sides of the floor. The Celtics outscoring Brooklyn inside the paint by 24 points. C’s also out-rebounded the Nets by 14 (24-29 in defensive rebounding).
In order for the Celtics to win game 2 Wednesday, they’ll need to continue to win the battle on the boards. They’ll have to continue to force the ball out of KD’s hands as much as possible. And Jayson Tatum will have to continue to step up in big moments on both sides of the floor.