NBA play-in

Jayson Tatum erupts for 50 as Celtics earn 7th seed

Jayson Tatum erupts for 50 as Celtics earn 7th seed

BIG GUNS. Wizards guard Russell Westbrook attempts to steal the ball from Celtics forward Jayson Tatum during the first half.

Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The Celtics arrange a first-round playoff matchup against the No. 2 Nets, while the Wizards try again to secure the last postseason berth in the East

Jayson Tatum unloaded 23 of his 50 points in the third quarter and the Boston Celtics punched their playoff ticket with a 118-100 victory over the Washington Wizards in an NBA play-in contest on Tuesday night, May 18 (Wednesday, May 19, Manila time).

Kemba Walker added 29 points as Boston, which had lost five of its final six regular season games, claimed the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference bracket. The Celtics will meet the second-seeded Brooklyn Nets in a first-round matchup.

Washington will have one more chance to make the postseason when it hosts the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night. The winner of that contest will land the No. 8 seed and face the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the first round.

Bradley Beal scored 22 points while dealing with a hamstring injury for the Wizards. Russell Westbrook had 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 assists but was just 6-of-18 shooting. Ish Smith recorded 17 points and 8 rebounds for Washington.

Tristan Thompson added 12 points and 12 rebounds for Boston, which shot 39.6%, including 15-of-45 from three-point range. Walker hit 6-of-14 from long distance and Tatum made 5 of 12.

Daniel Gafford scored 12 points for the Wizards, who made 43.5% of their shots but were just 3-of-21 from behind the arc.

Washington, which went 17-6 to finish the season, led 56-55 in the opening minute of the third quarter before the Celtics exploded with 14 straight points as part of a 19-2 burst.

Walker began the spurt with three consecutive three-pointers and Tatum followed with a 16-footer and a three-pointer to give Boston a 69-56 lead with 8:09 left.

Gafford scored on a tip-in to interrupt the run, but Tatum answered with a dunk and a triple as the Celtics took a 74-58 advantage with 7:13 remaining in the quarter.

Tatum knocked down a 22-footer with 28.1 seconds left to cap his huge quarter and give Boston a 90-80 lead entering the final stanza.

Washington trailed by seven early in the fourth quarter, but Boston answered with a 15-4 spurt. Tatum capped the run with a three-pointer to make it 106-88 with 5:32 left. Just 66 seconds later, Tatum hit two free throws to reach the 50-point mark and boost the lead to 110-90.

Walker hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 116-94 with 2:36 left. –