New York — Jason Tatum He was stunned, but sure. He disapproved of his sixth foul, but had no doubt that the Boston Celtics, with their solid defense, would hold out without their scoring star.
“I don’t believe it at all, but I think that’s what we were built for,” Tatum said.
It might be built for the tournament.
Tatum scored 29 points. Jaylyn Brown He had 22 and completed a four-game sweep of the Celtics over the Brooklyn Nets, becoming the first team to reach the second round of the playoffs with a 116-112 win on Monday night.
Marcus Smart He added 20 points and 11 assists for the No. 2 seed Celtics, who did an easy job for what he thought was a tough streak. Boston will await the winner of the series between Milwaukee and Chicago, with the defending champion Bucks leading 3-1.
The Celtics showed no fear of the Nets with Kevin Durant And Keri Irving It did not have the typical low seed profile. Boston won on the last day of the regular season instead of losing to fall back in the standings and avoid a showdown.
Turns out there was no cause for concern.
“It’s funny to us, because we’re not avoiding anyone. We knew what we were going to come here and do,” Smart said.
Durant scored 39 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds, breaking after the Celtics defended him well in the first three games. But he couldn’t get the win the Nets needed to extend what happened instead as a massive failure for one season.
Expected to be a contender in the NBA Finals, the Nets needed a strong finish just to snatch the No. 7 seed.
Seth Carrey He scored 23 points for the Nets. Irving, whose absence from home games for most of the season because he has not been vaccinated against the coronavirus, has contributed to the Nets performing well below expectations, with 20 points.
“There are a lot of things that might influence why we lost, but they were just a better team,” Durant said.
The Celtics were under .500 midway through their season but went 31-10 from there, with Tatum emerging as the top scorer on one of the top defensive teams in the NBA.
This defense limited Durant to just 19-52 shooting with 17 turns in his first three games and made it difficult for him to finally have more shots on Monday. He was only 13 out of 31 off the field, and 3 for 11 behind the bow.
He lost in the first round for the first time since 2010 with Oklahoma City, the first playoff series of his career. He has won nine consecutive first-round series.
Tatum had 12 points in the third quarter and the Celtics opened a 90-75 lead in the final seconds of the period. But he went to the bench with a fifth foul with 8:17 remaining and the Nets made a push that put them within three points after about three minutes.
Tatum juggled the Celtics with a six-goal lead with a 2:48 play rate. Irving made 3 pointers and Durant scored to cut it to 109-108 with 1:28 remaining. But after a basket from Brown, Durant managed only one free throw and the Celtics rushed to the ground, with Alhorford Smart re-missed to make it 113-109 with 13 seconds left.
The Nets dropped just 45-44 with 3:29 to play in the second quarter. But Grant Williams He made three three-pointers from then through to the break, the latter giving Boston a 58-50 lead.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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