NBA playoffs

Jayson Tatum, Celtics take 3-0 series lead over Nets

Delfin Dioquino

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Jayson Tatum, Celtics take 3-0 series lead over Nets

THREE IN A ROW. Jayson Tatum (right) outplays Kevin Durant in another Celtics win.

Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Jayson Tatum erupts to put the Celtics on the verge of sweeping the Nets in their first-round series

Jayson Tatum scored 39 points as the Boston Celtics led most of the way and beat the Brooklyn Nets, 109-103, in New York to open a commanding 3-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series on Saturday, April 23 (Sunday, April 24, Manila time).

He 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 6 assists and 6 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% 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% 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 7 of his three-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 three-pointer by Blake Griffin with 7:42 remaining.

However, Tatum hit a corner three-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 three 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 three-pointer with 1:15 left, but Smart converted a putback and a transition three-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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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.