Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics are moving on to the second round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs. They defeated the Brooklyn Nets by a 116-112 final score Monday night at Barclays Center, surviving the final minutes of the game with Jayson Tatum unavailable and completing a four-game sweep.

Tatum fouled out with 2:48 left in the fourth quarter and the Celtics clinging to a six-point lead, and Kyrie Irving immediately drained a three-pointer to cut the Celtics’ lead to three. The Nets were able to get within one point. But a missed free-throw by Kevin Durant with 22 seconds left ended up going the other way for an Al Horford tip-in off an attempt by Marcus Smart, giving the C’s a four-point lead with 13.7 seconds left. They never looked back from there.

The game wasn’t always that close. Boston led by as many as 10 points during the first quarter, but ended up with a 30-26 lead after one. The Celtics extended their lead to eight at halftime, finishing the second quarter with a Grant Williams three-pointer to make it 58-50.

Tatum followed up 12 first-half points with 12 more in the third quarter alone, helping further extend the Celtics’ lead to 90-78 after three quarters. He added five more points in the fourth quarter for a total of 29 before fouling out.

Brooklyn lost despite the best efforts of Kevin Durant, who came alive offensively for a game-high 39 points to finish an otherwise quiet series for him. Kyrie Irving finished with 20 points on 6-of-13 shooting, while Seth Curry scored 23 in the losing effort.

For the Celtics, Smart scored 20 points and added five rebounds and 11 assists. Jaylen Brown scored 22 on 9-of-20 shooting, and pulled down eight rebounds. The Celtics out-rebounded the Nets 45-38 as a team.

Grant Williams came up big for the C’s in the first half with 12 points, including 4-of-5 shooting from three-point range. He finished with 14 points and also played consistently strong defense against the Nets’ frontcourt, blocking three shots in the process. On the Nets’ bench, Nic Claxton’s struggles at the free-throw line proved costly, as he shot just 1-of-11 on freebies.

Boston now awaits the winner of the series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls in the second round. Entering Tuesday, the Bucks lead that series 3-1.

PHOTOS: Celtics take on Nets in Game 4 of 2022 NBA playoff series

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Mazz: 3 takeaways from a very busy weekend in Boston sports

  • We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: on the sports calendar, there is no month quite like April. Beginning Friday, Boston teams played six eventful games over a span of roughly 48 hours, winning some, losing others, producing an array of highlights, lowlights and discussion points as we approach the end of the month.

    The most important performance came from the Celtics, of course, who put a stranglehold on their series with the Brooklyn Nets via a 109-103 victory that gave Boston a commanding 3-0 advantage in the best-of-7 series. And if there was a sequence that defined who the Celtics have been in this series – and who they have become – it was the one we’re about to show you.

    So we’ll start there with the first of our three weekend takeaways:

    Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are a two-headed monster

    Apr 23, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) takes a three point shot over Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) in the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 23, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) takes a three point shot over Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) in the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

    The Celtics led for the final 44 minutes of Saturday’s win, but the Nets made more than their share of runs. Perhaps the most significant came during the fourth quarter, when Blake Griffin entered the game and gave the Nets a serious jolt of life.

    Over a span of roughly four minutes, Griffin scored eight points that twice cut the Celtics lead to five points and once cut the lead to four. And on every occasion – mostly with Jaylen Brown exploiting Griffin at the defensive end – the Celtics answered with a succession of big hoops that effectively ended the game. You can see them here:

  • Linus Ullmark has caught fire – and everything else

    Apr 23, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) makes a glove save against the New York Rangers during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 23, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) makes a glove save against the New York Rangers during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    The Bruins celebrated the returns of David Pastrnak (two points, +2), Hampus Lindholm (a team-leading 24:41, +1) and Ullmark (30 saves on 31 shots) on Saturday – and all contributed mightily to a 3-1 win over the Rangers. Ullmark is now 7-1 with a .939 save percentage in his last 10 games (two relief appearances) and has passed Jeremy Swayman as the No. 1 goalie. He has demonstrated a sharp glove hand all year, something he showed off during Saturday’s win:

  • Trevor Story is having some difficulty with the move to 2B

    Apr 24, 2022; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story (10) throws the ball for an out against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 24, 2022; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story (10) throws the ball for an out against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Story had his most eventful weekend as a member of the Red Sox, factoring into the first two games of a weekend series in a very big way. On Friday, Story made three good defensive plays, including a pair in the ninth inning that preserved the Red Sox 4-3 victory, the team’s only win of the series. But on Saturday, after the Red Sox were no-hit for nine innings – yes, you read that correctly – the Sox had a 2-0 lead with two outs in the 10th inning when Story’s throwing error triggered a Tampa Bay comeback that produced a 3-2 Red Sox defeat.

    Story has two errors so far this season and the move to second base from shortstop has created entirely different throwing angles for him. While he has demonstrated excellent athleticism overall, the move to the other side of the infield has resulted in some transitional issues that bear watching:

NEXT: Brad Stevens details Tatum, Brown’s playoff experience with Toucher and Rich