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.