When Tatum was done, he had one of the best playoff games in Celtics history – and the Nets themselves had a streak.
Tatum scored a career-high 50 playoff points to take Boston to a 125-119 victory on Friday night, which reduced Brooklyn’s lead to 2-1.
“It’s just one of those nights. Tatum said. “A tough shooting night the first game and I didn’t play much in the last game because I got a prick in the eye. “
In an emotional atmosphere with fans booing and chanting Kyrie Irving whenever he was involved in something, Tatum became the sixth player in franchise history to score 50 points in a playoff game.
“We had a lot of guys stepping up tonight as Jayson was special,” said Boston coach Brad Stevens.
After scoring 50 points in Boston’s win in the play-in tournament, Tatum struggled in both games in Brooklyn, but stabilized the Celtics in Game 3 after the Nets took an early lead from 15 points.
“There is nothing like playing at home in front of your home crowd,” he said.
He joined John Havlicek, Isaiah Thomas, Ray Allen, Sam Jones and Bob Cousy as the Celtics with 50 points in a playoff game.
“He was just locked up mentally,” said teammate Marcus Smart. “We are up against a behemoth of a team. As I said before, the world knows it and we know it. It is not going to be easy. You can’t lie down, you can’t step back. We have to be able to move forward and that is what we have done tonight. “
It was Irving’s first game in front of Boston fans since leaving via free agency in 2019.
James Harden led the Nets with 41 points, Kevin Durant had 39 and Irving finished with 16 of 6 of 17 shots.
“They were shooting tonight, especially Tatum,” Durant said. “He hit hard on us. I don’t think he made anything easy. “
Boston shot 50.6%, including 16 of 39 of 3 after shooting just 39.7% overall in the first two games.
Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday night in Boston, where the Celtics will be allowed to have a near-full crowd at TD Garden when Massachusetts lifts crowd size limits on Saturday due to the pandemic. It was capped at 25% on Friday.
Smart added 23 points, Tristan Thompson gave Boston a huge boost with 19 points and 13 rebounds and Evan Fournier added 17 points. Kemba Walker had a rough night, scoring just six goals on 3 of 14 shots.
“I think they were a little desperate and became the aggressor after our hot start,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “It was they who were looking to drive the ball and it was they who were looking to intervene with 3. They started, gained momentum, got the crowd moving and started to feel confident to the first time in three games. “
Irving was booed when he stepped out for warm-ups, during pre-game presentations and every time he touched the ball these turned into loud cheers when he missed shots.
Things took a turn for the worse when some fans briefly did a vulgar chant to Irving a few times.
“It’s basketball. I’ve been in a few environments in my life, ”Irving said. “Like I said, as long as it’s strictly the nature of basketball and there’s nothing more, I’m okay with that. “
Brooklyn reduced a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter to five with just under a minute to go, but Tatum managed a backward leap from the top and Boston held on.
Tatum scored 11 points in the 4:46 final of the third, helping Boston turn a one-point deficit into a 96-84 lead entering the final quarter.
The Nets started quickly, hitting 4 of 5 shots from behind the arc to take the 19-4 advantage before Tatum sparked Boston’s return with 21 points in the first half that took the Celtics to 61-57. at halftime. Harden and Durant almost matched him with 17 each.
Tatum returned to the lineup after playing just 21 minutes in Game 2 because he was accidentally stung in the right eye by Durant.
END OF BOSTON OF KYRIE
Irving’s two seasons with the Celtics ended difficult after he became a “lightning rod” with fans due to the belief that he was unable to get along with his young stars Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who carried Boston to the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals when Irving missed the playoffs with a knee injury.
At the Boston start, Irving said he wanted to stay – even having his jersey number hanging from the rafters, then changed his mind before rushing to join Durant. In his second and final season, Irving played in the playoffs when they were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.
Nets: F Jeff Green is expected to miss the rest of the series with a left foot injury. The club plans to reassess him in 10 days. With his absence, Nash thought Nic Claxton could see more minutes. He only played 16 and scored four points.
Celtics: Tatum is the first Boston player to reach 40 in three quarters since Thomas made it on May 2, 2017.? Stevens said Walker was a match-making decision after sustaining a bone contusion to his left knee in Game 2. “He was in pretty pain (Thursday),” Stevens said. “I went through things this morning, I felt a little better. ? He’s always going to go through his pre-game stuff. I told him to be very frank with me as he goes through them and how he feels because obviously we don’t. I want to put him in a bad spot. “? Center Robert Williams III sprained his left ankle and only played six minutes.