Jayson Tatum spun around Kyrie Irving to finish a clutch layup as time expired, lifting the Boston Celtics to a 115-114 win over the Brooklyn Nets in a thrilling Game 1 of their 2022 NBA Playoff series.
Irving nearly led the Nets to victory as he scored 39 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter. The Nets came back from down 15 points to take a late-fourth-quarter lead, as Irving drained a three-pointer to give the Nets a 114-111 lead with just 45.9 seconds left in regulation. Jaylen Brown made a quick lay-in to cut the deficit to one and give the Celtics the chance at the two-for-one to close the game, then stifled Irving with double-teams at the other end to get themselves to the deciding final possession.
Tatum spent much of the first half as a facilitator, with seven of his eight assists. But his shot came alive in the second quarter, as he scored 11 in that frame alone to help the C’s keep pace. Tatum finished with 31 points, to go along with four rebounds, one steal, and two blocks.
The Celtics held a narrow one-point lead after one quarter, despite the Nets turning the ball over seven times. Brooklyn shot 50 percent overall in the first quarter, compared to 42.9 percent for Boston, and was also better at the free throw line (11-of-12 vs 7-of-10). The Nets’ shooting only improved in the second quarter, finishing the first half shooting 20-for-37 (54.1 percent) as a team. At halftime, the teams ended up tied 61-61, after a first half that featured 17 lead changes.
Boston came out hot in the third quarter, starting off with a 12-2 run, and led by as much as 15 before taking a 96-85 lead into the fourth. The third was powered mainly by a red-hot stretch for point guard Marcus Smart, who scored 11 points. At one point, Smart stole Irving’s ill-advised inbound pass and made an easy layup.
Irving came alive in the fourth and made multiple taunting gestures toward booing Celtics fans along the way, but Tatum had the last word. The Celtics have a 1-0 lead in the series, with Game 2 coming Wednesday in Boston.