The NBA postseason tipped off on Tuesday night with the first two games of the play-in tournament that would decide the No. 7 and No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. And it’s safe to say things got interesting.
The first game saw the Indiana Pacers, who finished ninth on the standings, hosting the tenth Charlotte Hornets. The winner of this game would get a chance to play for the No. 8 seed against the loser of Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards.
Many believed that the Hornets had a real chance of surprising the Pacers, considering all the turmoil that took place in Indiana during this season. But the Pacers managed to get things together just in time and completely embarrass Charlotte.
It became clear that the Pacers were going to win the game in the first quarter. They opened with a 23-9 lead and continued piling up points as the contest went on. At one point, early in the third quarter, they were ahead by 31 points. Hornets only managed to soften the blow a bit in the fourth period to make it 117-144.
Domantas Sabonis carried Indiana in this game, delivering an impressive stat-line that included 14 points, 21 rebounds, and nine assists. Oshae Brissett added 23 points and five rebounds, while Dough McDermott scored 21.
Miles Bridges had 23 points and eight rebounds for Hornets, with Cody Zeller and Terry Rozier contributing 17 points and 16 points, respectively.
In Boston, the Celtics welcomed the red-hot Washington Wizards in a game that would decide the No. 7 seed. Many expected a close game, but this one saw a one-side result as well, with the home team getting a 118-100 win.
The Celtics hero on Tuesday night was Jayson Tatum, who had a monster performance that saw him score 50 points with eight rebounds and four assists. Tatum was 14-32 from the game and 5-12 from the three-point line while scoring all 17 free-throw attempts.
Boston also saw a big contribution from Kemba Walker, who had 29 points and seven rebounds. Tatum, Walker, and Tristan Thompson (12 points) were the only Celtics in double-digit scoring.
The Wizards, on the other hand, mightily struggled with shooting. Russell Westbrook missed all but six of his 18 attempts from the game, including 0-4 for three points, while Bradley Beal finished the night with 10-25 from the game and 1-6 from the three-point arc. Davis Bertans had an even worse night, failing to hit a single three from seven attempts.
The Boston Celtics will now face the No. 2 seeded Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs, while the Washington Wizards are set to host the Indiana Pacers in an attempt to get the No. 8 seed.