Jayson Tatum had a monstrous performance on Friday night as the Boston Celtics beat the Brooklyn Nets to reduce the deficit to 2-1 in their series. Tatum dropped 50 points as the Celtics beat the Nets 125-119 in Game 3. It was the second consecutive 50-point performance by Tatum at the TD Garden as he also dropped 50 points on the Washington Wizards in the play-in tournament.
"It's just one of those nights," Tatum said, per ESPN. "Trying to protect home court, trying to get a win at all costs. "Sometimes, nights like these are needed."
Tatum delivered for the Celtics in Game 3
"Just make a play," said Tatum, who before Friday night had scored a combined 31 points through the first two games -- both Celtics losses -- and left Game 2 in the third quarter after Durant accidentally poked him in the eye.
"Obviously, I know I had it going but just trying to see where the help was, somebody was coming, find an open man. In those situations, just make the right play." Meanwhile, Brooklyn Nets star guard Kyrie Irving returned to Boston with fans in attendance for the first time since leaving the team in 2019.
"Yeah, we're expecting a bigger crowd on Sunday," Irving said. "Happy it was a great start to seeing what this environment's gonna be like and just looking forward to the challenge." Irving was booed pregame and he was also booed every time he touched the ball during the game.
"I mean, it's basketball," Irving said. "I've been in a few environments in my life. So like I said, as long as it's just strictly the nature of basketball out there, it's nothing extra. I'm cool with it.
Going to get some preparation with the team tomorrow and then get prepared for Sunday, but want to keep it straight basketball." Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden all had good performances but the Celtics limited the rest of the team.
"It was huge," Celtics guard Marcus Smart said of limiting Brooklyn's supporting cast. "Those guys hurt us in Game 2 especially. Joe [Harris] went off, I think, hit seven 3s in Game 2, and they fed off that.
So for us to be able to come down and just hold them steady and not let them hurt us as well as those guys going off, it was big for us. And for our guys to come in and do exactly what those guys did to us in Game 2, and that's contributing, both ends of the floor, is exactly what we need and we got to continue that."