On Sunday afternoon, the Celtics picked up what will likely go down as their signature win of this regular season. Boston went back-and-fourth with the Brooklyn Nets for a full 48 minutes, closing the game on a 16-9 run en route to a 126-120 win at TD Garden.
It was a nail-biting affair throughout, with the scoring margin never hitting double-digits in either direction. The game featured 28 lead changes and 19 ties.
Most of the game followed a similar pattern where the Celtics would start quarters strong, the Nets would have a run in the middle, with the C’s closing to keep things close. Boston trailed at all three quarter breaks but outscored Brooklyn 37-30 in the fourth.
This wasn’t a banged-up Nets team like the one the Celtics beat up on a few weeks ago. Brooklyn had both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the lineup, with the duo playing 39 and 37 minutes respectively.
However, the Celtics countered with their own superstar duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, with Brown starting despite being a game-time decision due to an ankle injury. Yet it was Tatum who stole the headlines with what was arguably the most complete game of his five-year NBA career. He put up 54 points – the second-highest single-game total of his career – on 16-of-30 shooting, hitting 8-of-15 shots from behind the arc. With four 50-plus point games, he’s now tied with Larry Bird for the most such games in Celtics history. Beyond what he contributed scoring wise, Tatum saw the floor incredibly well as a distributor and made a number of key defensive stops as well.
Tatum spent most of the game going toe-to-toe with Durant, who scored 37 points and added eight assists in just his second game back from a significant knee injury. Irving, in his return to Boston, scored 19.
Back on Boston’s side, Brown added 21 points including a key three-pointer late in the game. Marcus Smart nearly delivered a double-double on his 28th birthday, finishing with 14 points and nine assists.
With the win, the Celtics improve to 39-27 on the season. They’ve now won three in a row, five of their last six, and 14 of their last 16. At the conclusion of Sunday’s game, they sit in fifth-place in the Eastern conference, a game back of the Bucks and Bulls for third place and a game and a half back of Milwaukee for second.
After closing up their three-game homestand with a sweep, the Celtics head on the road for their next contest. They’ll take on the Hornets in Charlotte on Wednesday, with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. 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 abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.