Boston Celtics

Jayson Tatum is putting on quite the performance in the Boston Celtics’ first-round series against the Nets, averaging just under 30 points per game and allowing just 10 when guarding Kevin Durant defensively (via Chris Forsberg). He’s been an expectedly major piece of the Celtics’ 3-0 lead in the series.

Tatum’s rise to superstardom – and in this instance, his abilities against Durant – have added to his recognition. NBA champion and former Celtic Paul Pierce took the praise to a new level when he tweeted that Tatum’s performance may be the moment he passes Durant.

If nothing else, Tatum has certainly outplayed Durant throughout the series. While still averaging 22 points per game over the first three contests, Durant’s increased turnover totals and drop-off in fourth-quarter scoring certainly headline the factors that leave Brooklyn facing elimination in Monday’s Game 4.

Tatum vs Durant may still be up for debate, but Tatum’s performance against Brooklyn this postseason speaks for itself.

PHOTOS: Celtics take on Nets in Game 3 of NBA Playoffs first round series

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: Ben Simmons faces intense backlash for bowing out of Game 4 vs Celtics