Jayson Tatum scored a playoff career-high 50 points to lead the Boston Celtics to a 125-119 victory over the visiting Brooklyn Nets in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference first-round series on Friday night.
The Nets lead the series 2-1 and Game 4 is Sunday night where a full-capacity crowd will be allowed in Boston.
Tatum produced Boston's sixth 50-point postseason game and first since Isaiah Thomas totaled 53 in Game 2 of the 2017 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Washington Wizards.
After shooting a combined 9 of 32 in the first two games and getting poked in the eye by Kevin Durant in Game 2, Tatum delivered a dazzling 16-for-30 performance from the field. He made five 3-pointers, hit 13 of 15 free throws and dished out seven assists.
James Harden led Brooklyn with 41 points as he shot 11 of 18 and hit seven 3-pointers, tying the franchise postseason record for 3s.
Durant added 39 but Kyrie Irving struggled in his first appearance in front of Boston fans since leaving the Celtics in 2019. Irving heard boos all night and profane chants at times while being held to 16 points on 6-of-17 shooting.
Tatum reached 50 points on a crafty sequence after the Nets got within 120-115 on two free throws by Irving with 58.7 seconds left. With 41.8 seconds left, Tatum executed a crossover move on Durant for a 19-footer that made it 122-115.
Durant's 3-pointer made it 123-119 with 22 seconds left but a dunk by Grant Williams with 13 seconds remaining finished it off.
Marcus Smart added 23 and converted the tiebreaking four-point play with 5:11 remaining in the third. Tristan Thompson totaled 19 points and 13 rebounds while Evan Fournier chipped in 17 points as Boston overcame an early 15-point deficit and shot 50.6 percent.
The Nets sped out to a 19-4 lead but Boston stormed back and outscored Brooklyn 29-13 over the final 8:36 of the quarter and took a 33-32 lead on Smart's 3-pointer with 12.8 seconds left. Boston expanded its lead 59-49 on a layup by Tatum with 2:27 remaining and held a 61-57 advantage by halftime.
Tatum scored 19 points in the third, including Boston's final nine points of the quarter, when the Celtics turned a 75-all tie into a 96-84 lead going into the fourth.