The standards of greatness are different for the Boston Celtics franchise. Even with their rich history, however, Jayson Tatum’s performance on Friday night firmly belongs in the heights of Celtic lore. The young superstar finished with 50 points on 16-30 from the field and guided Boston to a 125-119 win. While the heavily favored Brooklyn Nets controlled things at Barclays Center to race out to a 2-0 series lead, Boston is all of a sudden back in it with a chance to tie things up in front of 17,000 TD Garden lunatics on Sunday.
The night began the way all 48 minutes went on Wednesday. Brooklyn blitzed Boston to take a 19-4 lead in the first 3:30 with a three-point barrage.
While the Celtics slowly crawled back throughout the remainder of the first quarter, it was the final two minutes of the frame that changed the game. Boston finished the quarter on a 10-0 explosion led by Tatum and finished off by a Marcus Smart three to give the Celtics a 33-32 lead at the end of one.
After back-and-forth runs, it was another ending to a quarter that proved to be the decider. Tatum scored 8 points in the final four minutes of the third quarter as part of a 15-2 Boston run that created separation heading into the fourth. The final period saw the Celtics hit timely jumpers to prevent any serious Brooklyn push.
While Kevin Durant and James Harden combined to score 80 points, Kyrie Irving couldn’t match the two superstars in his playoff return to Boston. Amidst a shower of constant boos, the former Celtic was just 6-17 from the field, finishing with 16 points. Whether it was Durant, Irving on a targeted switch from Brad Stevens, or any other person in the building on him, the Nets had no answer for Tatum.
The Celtics will look to tie the series at two on Sunday with tip set for 7 PM ET on TNT.