Now, that’s how you start a playoff series.
Thanks to an absurd buzzer-beating layup from All-Star forward Jayson Tatum, the Celtics nabbed a 115–114 victory over the Nets in a wild Game 1 inside TD Garden on Sunday afternoon.
Tatum’s clutch basket came after the Celtics secured the rebound following a missed Kevin Durant three with 15 seconds remaining. The ball found its way into the hands of Jaylen Brown with a little under 10 seconds to go before the All-Star kicked it out to Marcus Smart at the three-point line.
Smart faked a shot attempt, sending two Nets defenders flying, before penetrating the lane and finding a cutting Tatum who caught the ball in the paint, spun past Kyrie Irving and converted the shot as the clock hit zero.
The chaotic finish set the stage for what many expect will be a hotly-contested first-round series between two of the NBA’s most offensively-gifted teams. Tatum finished the game with 31 points while Brown recorded 23 points; the young stars also combined for nine boards, 11 assists and five steals. Irving led all scorers with 39 points on 12-of-20 shooting, and Durant chipped in 23 points on 24 shots.
The Nets-Celtics matchup garnered a boatload of buzz from fans and pundits alike in the days leading up to Sunday’s game. Tatum and Irving, former teammates from 2017 to ’19, added to the hype when asked to reflect on the Nets star’s time in Boston.
Last Wednesday, Tatum told reporters he “learned what to do and some things not to do” while watching Irving’s tumultuous two-year stint with the team. Two days later, Kyrie urged Celtics fans to “move forward” rather than dwell on the past.
As you might expect, the home crowd was more than unforgiving towards Irving on Sunday, and he made sure to let Boston know he heard them. But, when it was all said and done, it was the Celtics who got the last laugh in Game 1.
Boston, the East’s No. 2 seed, will now take a 1–0 series lead over No. 7 seed Brooklyn into Game 2 on Wednesday night.
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