Jayson Tatum hits spinning game-winner, Celtics beat Nets in dramatic Game 1
Jayson Tatum made one bucket the entire fourth quarter.
He made it count — a spinning game-winner as time expired to give the Celtics a 115-114 Game 1 win over the Nets.
It was a dramatic back-and-forth game that saw the Celtics pull away to double-digit leads, only to watch the hot hand — and fresh legs — of Kyrie Irving would pull them back in. Irving also flipped off the Celtics fans on a night they reminded him how much they can’t stand him for promising to stay then bolting for Brooklyn, plus Irving stomped on the Celtics’ center-court logo after a Nets win. Celtics fans will feel like the win was some level of poetic justice.
All that and this was just Game 1.
A perfect example of the back-and-forth nature of this game started late in the third quarter. The Nets were hanging around, but then Jaylen Brown blocked a Kevin Durant layup on one end, raced down the court and got the transition bucket on the other.
Moments later, Jayson Tatum hit a 3 over the long arms of Nic Claxton, and the Celtics were in control entering the fourth quarter.
Then the Nets opened the fourth quarter on a 17-2 run — which included Irving hitting a couple of huge 3-pointers and gesturing to the Celtics fans that they are number one — and it was a game the rest of the way. A game it looked like the Nets might win after an Irving 3-pointer with 45.9 seconds left. But Bown hit a quick bucket to make it a one-point game, Durant missed a tough 3-pointer up against the shot clock, all setting up Tatum’s ending.
Tatum finished with 31 points on 9-of-18 shooting plus eight assists to lead the Celtics. Brown added 23 points, and both Al Horford and Marcus Smart had 20.
Irving had 39 to lead the Celtics as he targeted Daniel Theis and other Boston bigs on switches (but he scored over Smart and everyone). Durant had 23 points but needed 24 shots to get there,
The two things to watch going into Game 2: How does Boston adjust to the switching and isolations on Theis, Grant Williams and their big men (this is where they miss Robert Williams, who remains out injured); second, can Boston just slow down on offense? When they were patient they found places to attack, but when the Nets would go on a scoring run — as a team with Irving and Durant will do — the Celtics rushed and tried to get it all back at once. Combine that with struggles shooting at the rim to open the fourth, which got them in trouble.