By Carlo Jay Cabagnot
LOS ANGELES - A decisive 14-2 third quarter run turned a close game into a rout and the Celtics are off to the playoffs with a 118-110 pummelling of the Washington Wizards early today at the TD Garden in Boston.
Jayson Tatum led the way with 50 points on 14 of 32 shooting from the field including 5-of-12 from downtown. Kemba Walker added 29 and the Celtics survived despite missing a key piece, Jaylen Brown, who is out for the remainder of the season with a wrist injury.
Boston, which trailed 53-52 at the turn, didn't have a good shooting night, canning just 38 of 96 shots and 15 of 45 threes. But the Wizards couldn't capitalize as they missed 18 of their 21 attempts from 3-point range.
"I know that my teammates, I've earned their respect. I've earned the respect of the guys I play against. I believe in myself, that's all that matters," Tatum told reporters after pouring 32 points in a blistering second half barrage.
Despite dealing with an injured hamstring, Bradley Beal came up with 22 points for the Wizards while Russell Westbrook fell five assists short of a triple-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
With the victory, the Celtics have officially claimed the No.7 seed in the Eaastern Conference and will be "rewarded" with a first-round best-of 7 series match-up against the No.2 seed Brooklyn Nets.
The Wizards, meanwhile, have another shot at making the playoffs when they battle the Indiana Pacers on Friday.