Boston Celtics

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 18: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics controls the ball against Ish Smith #14 of the Washington Wizards during the second half of a game in the play-in tournament at TD Garden on May 18, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Facing a win-and-in situation in the first game of the NBA’s debut play-in tournament, the Celtics put together one of their best performances of the season, led by an all-time performance from their superstar.

Behind a massive performance from Jayson Tatum, the Celtics beat the Washington Wizards 118-100 Tuesday night at TD Garden. With the win, the Celtics clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket. 

After an early back-and-forth start, the Celtics put together the first big run of the game for either side. They had a 19-8 stretch in the middle of the quarter, which was the difference after 12 minutes. Heading into the second, Boston led 27-21.

The Wizards opened the second quarter with a 10-2 run, led by Ish Smith – who has been a thorn in the Celtics’ side all season. Smith scored 11 points in his first 10 minutes. 

That 10-2 run became a 23-7 run as the Wizards took their first lead of the game late in the second quarter. They’d get up by as much as nine, while the Celtics dealt with a pair of key injures. Marcus Smart came up limping, but returned to the game relatively quickly after heading to the locker room, while Robert Williams had a scary looking landing and didn’t return until a brief shift in the second half.

Despite all of that and going 0-for-12 from three in the second quarter, the Celtics closed the half on a 10-4 run. At the break they trailed by just two, down 54-52.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at