Jayson Tatum scored 39 points as the Boston Celtics led most of the way and beat the Brooklyn Nets 109-103 on Saturday night in New York to open a commanding three-games-to-none lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Tatum made 13 of 29 shots for his second 30-plus-point game of the series, putting the second-seeded Celtics on the verge of sweeping the seventh-seeded Nets in Game 4 on Monday. Tatum, who scored 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the fourth quarter, also finished with six assists and six of Boston’s 13 steals.
Jaylen Brown added 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting as the Celtics led for the final 39:58. Marcus Smart added 14 points as the Celtics shot 50 percent for the game and heard loud “Let’s Go Celtics” chants in the final minutes.
Bruce Brown led the Nets with 26 points, but superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were held to a combined 32 points as the Nets shot 50.6 percent but also allowed 37 points off 21 turnovers.
Durant and Irving each scored 16 points. Irving made only 6 of 17 shots from the field and missed all seven of his 3-point tries.
Brooklyn remained within striking distance early in the fourth before Boston began pulling away. The Nets got the lead down to 88-84 on a 3-pointer by Blake Griffin with 7:42 remaining.
However, Tatum hit a corner 3-pointer over Durant on the next possession, and Jaylen Brown banked in a 20-footer for a 93-84 lead with 6:37 to go.
Tatum helped finish it off on consecutive possessions. He drove the lane and passed the ball out to Al Horford for an open corner 3 with 4:20 remaining, and then converted a finger roll layup for a 101-88 lead with 3:52 to go.
In the third quarter, the Nets were within 75-72 when Patty Mills hit a 3-pointer with 1:15 left, but Smart converted a putback and a transition 3-pointer, and Jaylen Brown dunked to give Boston an 81-72 lead into the fourth.
Tatum scored 12 points and hit a pair of jumpers in the final 70 seconds as the Celtics grabbed a 30-25 lead after one quarter. The Celtics built a 39-27 lead on a dunk by Robert Williams III with 8:23 left, and settled for a 53-50 edge by halftime.
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