NEW YORK (AP) — Jayson Tatum scored 29 points, Jaylen Brown had 22 and the Boston Celtics completed a four-game sweep of the Brooklyn Nets, becoming the first team to reach the second round of the playoffs with a 116-112 victory Monday night.
Marcus Smart added 20 points and 11 assists for the No. 2-seeded Celtics, who made easy work of what was thought could be a tough series. Boston will wait for the winner of the series between Milwaukee and Chicago. The defending champion Bucks hold a 3-1 lead in that series.
Kevin Durant had 39 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, breaking free after the Celtics had defended him well in the first three games. But he couldn’t get the Nets the win they needed to extend what instead goes down as a massive failure of a season.
Expected to be an NBA Finals contender, the Nets needed a strong finish just to grab the No. 7 seed.
Seth Curry scored 23 points for the Nets. Kyrie Irving, whose unavailability for home games much of the season because he isn’t vaccinated against the coronavirus contributed to the Nets performing so far below expectations, had 20 points.
The Celtics were under .500 at the midpoint of their season but went 31-10 from there, with Tatum emerging as the scoring star on one of the NBA’s best defensive teams.
That defense limited Durant to just 19-for-52 shooting with 17 turnovers through the first three games and made it tough for him, even as he finally got more shots to drop Monday. He was only 13 of 31 from the field, 3 for 11 behind the arc.