Jayson Tatum scored 29 points, Jaylen Brown added 22 and the Boston Celtics completed a four-game sweep of the Nets, becoming the first team to reach the second round of the playoffs with a 116-112 win over Brooklyn on Monday.
“I couldn’t believe it at all, but I think we’re made for it,” Tatum said.
They may be made for a championship.
Marcus Smart added 20 points and 11 assists for the Celtics, who easily won what was thought to be a tough series. Boston awaits the winner of the duel between Milwaukee and Chicago. The defending champion Bucks have a 3-1 lead in that series.
Kevin Durant finished with 39 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, breaking free after facing fierce Celtics defense in the first three games. But he couldn’t give the Nets a win when they needed to extend the series and instead they were eliminated with a resounding failure tag.
The Nets, who were anticipated to be contenders for the NBA Finals, needed a big finish to the regular season just to qualify as seventh in the Eastern Conference.
Seth Curry added 23 points for the Nets. Kyrie Irving, whose absence from home games for much of the season because he was unvaccinated against the coronavirus contributed to the team’s poor performance, finished with 20 points.
“There are a lot of things that can play into our losing, but they were just a better team,” Durant said.
The Celtics were under .500 at the halfway point in the season but finished 31-10, with Tatum cementing himself as the offensive star on one of the best defensive teams in the entire NBA.
That defense limited Durant to just 19-of-52 shooting from the field with 17 turnovers in the first three games and made things difficult for him, though he eventually made more shots Monday. He made just 13 of 31 shots from the field and three of 11 from 3-point range.
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Tatum and the Celtics complete sweep of Durant and Nets