"Be the best player on the floor. That's what I told myself coming into this game," Jayson Tatum said after dropping 50 in a 118-100 win against the Wizards, securing the Celtics No.7 seed and the first-round matchup against the Brooklyn Nets. "Do whatever it takes to win and be the best player on the floor. I felt like, if I did that, we'd have a good chance to win."
Tatum shot 14-for-32 from the floor, 5-for-12 from three, and 17-for-17 from the free-throw line. Kemba Walker had 29, and Tristan Thompson added 12 off the bench. Russell Westbrook put up 20/14/5 on 33.3% shooting for the Wizards, who will face off against the Hornets for the final playoff spot. Bradley Beal had 22 on 10-for-25 from the field but struggled with a hamstring strain. He provided an update on the injury after the game.
It's as good as it's gonna get. You can call me one-leg bandit if you want.
Tatum's 50 point performance saved an otherwise ugly start to the Play-in, following the Pacers 144-117 blowout win over Charlotte. If the first two games of the Play-in are an indication of what's to come in the postseason, the league is in for some trouble. Even throughout the rest of the tournament, the excitement level of these games has to be higher. The NBA is counting on tonight's matchup between the Lakers and the Warriors to kick-start what the idea of their newly implemented concept was in the first place - making the end of the season exciting to watch.
What better way to do it than with another iteration of Steph Curry vs. LeBron James? But unlike previous years, when the Warriors enjoyed the role of the favorite, they are going into this matchup as underdogs, heavily relying on Curry to pull off a magical single-game performance and secure his team a playoff spot.
We know who the head of the snake is, it's Steph. We got to do our best to contain him. It's gonna be a team effort, not just all the pressure on the guards. We got to make sure we keep an eye on him and stay locked in on him at all times.
Anthony Davis, ESPN
The head of the snake himself is ready for the challenge. "I hope everybody hears the chatter," Curry said after Tuesday's practice. "Even at this point how we match up with LA or potentially with Phoenix or Utah if we get through this Play-in tournament and all that. Nobody thought we were even going to be in this position. A lot of people had us way, way, way down the standings coming in after Klay got hurt, so there's a lot of things that we already flipped on its head to this point, so we might as well keep going."
After the Lakers practice, Frank Vogel gave an update on LeBron James's ankle, saying the 36-year-old superstar is good to go tonight. That in and of itself should guarantee a much better Play-in game than what we got to see yesterday. Even the Grizzlies and the Spurs, who are set to open Wednesday's night of NBA basketball, should epitomize everything the Play-in concept promised but deprived us of on its opening day.