Jayson Tatum scored 29 points before fouling out late in the fourth quarter as the Boston Celtics never trailed and completed a four-game sweep of the Brooklyn Nets in their Eastern Conference first-round series by holding on for a 116-112 victory Monday night in New York.
The second-seeded Celtics, who lost to the Nets in five games in this round last season, await the winner of the Milwaukee-Chicago series. The Bucks lead the Bulls three games to one.
In front of a number of Boston fans who made the trip to New York, the Celtics led by as many as 15 before sweating out the final minutes after Tatum was called for a pair of offensive fouls.
Tatum, who hit the buzzer-beating layup in the series opener and scored 39 points in Game 3, made 9 of 16 shots, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer early in the second quarter that gave Boston the lead for good.
Jaylen Brown added 22 points for the Celtics, who shot 47.2 percent and won each game in the series by single digits. Marcus Smart added 20 points and 11 assists, Grant Williams hit four 3-pointers and contributed 14 points and Al Horford chipped in 13.
Kevin Durant scored 39 for his best game of the series but missed two 3-pointers in the final minute as Brooklyn ended a season it had entered as an NBA title favorite. Seth Curry added 23 points, Kyrie Irving finished with 20 and the Nets shot 50.6 percent
Despite never trailing, the Celtics sweated out some dicey moments in the fourth after Tatum picked up his fifth foul when he charged into Blake Griffin with 8:17 left. After Tatum went to the bench, the Nets cut the deficit to 102-99 when Goran Dragic hit a 3-pointer with 5:24 left.
The Celtics held a 109-103 lead when Tatum fouled out with 2:48 remaining and the Nets drew within 109-108 on Durant’s 14-footer with 1:28 left.
On the next possession, Brown hit a layup to make it 111-108 with 62 seconds left and Durant missed a tying 3-pointer seven seconds later.
After Brown missed a jumper with 29.6 seconds to go, Durant split two free throws with 22.2 seconds to make it 111-109. Smart missed a layup, but Horford swooped in for the putback with 13.7 seconds left and a 113-109 lead.
Following a timeout, Durant’s 3-pointer was long with 10.3 seconds remaining and Smart iced the game by hitting three free throws over the final 7.1 seconds left.
–Field Level Media