Washington now battles the Indiana Pacers in another Play-In Tournament game to decide the final playoff team in the Eastern Conference.
The Pacers, the No. 9 seed, beat the No. 10 Charlotte Hornets 144-117 in the first of two Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament games on Tuesday in Indianapolis. Tatum then led the No. 7 Celtics to a 118-110 win over the No. 8 Wizards on Tuesday in Boston.
"I just wanted to be aggressive," Tatum told reporters. "I just tried to put the pressure on the defense and the referees."
The Wizards scored the first points of the game against the Celtics, but Boston responded with a 10-2 run and led 27-21 at the end of the first quarter. The Wizards outscored the Celtics 33-25 and led 54-52 at halftime.
Tatum then powered the Celtics over the final two quarters. The All-Star forward scored 23 points in the third quarter, including the final 10 points of the frame. The Celtics held a 90-80 lead going into the fourth quarter. Tatum scored another nine points in the final 12 minutes to help the Celtics hold onto the lead and advance to the first round of the playoffs.
Tatum made 14 of 32 shots from the field and was 5 of 12 from 3-point range in the victory. He also made 17 of 17 free-throw attempts and recorded eight rebounds and four assists.
The Wizards now face the Pacers to determine who gets the No. 8 seed and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Celtics face the No. 2 Brooklyn Nets in the first round at 8 p.m. EDT Saturday in Brooklyn.
"It's really hard to make the NBA playoffs," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "Everybody's path is different. Every year presents unique challenges. We have been through a lot so we are hardened in a lot of ways."
Pacers dominate Hornets
The No. 9 seed Pacers pummeled the No. 10 Hornets from the start and never looked back Tuesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Pacers led by as many as 39 points in the blowout.
Pacers forward Oshae Brissett scored a team-high 23 points. Pacers center Domantas Sabonis scored 14 points with 21 rebounds and nine assists in the victory. Eight Pacers players scored in double figures.
Malcolm Brogdon gave the Pacers an early lead with a 3-pointer 35 seconds into the game. The Pacers then added an 11-2 run to take control of the game.
Pacers forward Doug McDermott scored 16 points in the first 12 minutes and powered his team to a 40-24 lead through the first quarter. The Pacers outscored the Hornets 29-21 in the second quarter and led 69-45 at halftime.
Center Domantas Sabonis scored 12 points in the third quarter to help the Pacers carry a 108-78 edge into the final frame.
Kelan Martin and Goga Bitadze scored 12 and 11 points, respectively, in the fourth quarter for the Pacers.
McDermott recorded 21 points in the Pacers win. T.J. McConnell scored 17 points off the bench. Martin and Bitadze recorded 14 points apiece off the bench in the victory.
Miles Bridges paced the Hornets with a team-high 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
The Hornets are eliminated from the playoffs. The Pacers face the Wizards at 8 p.m. EDT Thursday in Washington, D.C. That game airs on TNT.
The Western Conference Play-In Tournament games start with the No. 10 San Antonio Spurs at the No. 9 Memphis Grizzlies at 7:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday in Memphis. The No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers then host the No. 8 Golden State Warriors at 10 p.m. EDT Wednesday in Los Angeles. Those games air on ESPN.
The loser of the Lakers/Warriors game faces the winner of the Grizzlies/Spurs game Friday on ESPN.