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Celtics advance to knockout stage of NBA in-season tournament behind blowout win, help from Nets

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Celtics

The Celtics needed a blowout win over the Bulls and some help from the Nets on Tuesday.

The Celtics will take on the Pacers in the next round of the in-season tournament. Danielle Parhizkaran/Globe Staff

Thanks to a lopsided win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night — coupled with a little help from the Brooklyn Nets — the Boston Celtics have improbably punched their ticket to the next round of the NBA’s first in-season tournament.

As a result of Boston’s dominant 124-97 win over Chicago and Brooklyn handing the Raptors a 115-103 loss just minutes later, the Celtics went from a long shot to advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament to the surprise winners of East Group C.

According to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, the Celtics will take on the Pacers on the road in their knockout stage game — which will be either Dec. 4 or Dec. 5. The Bucks will host the Knicks in the other East matchup.

Both Boston and Brooklyn’s victories on Tuesday led to a three-way tie with Orlando for the top spot in Group C, with the Celtics ultimately holding the edge over both the Nets and Magic based on point differential (+27).

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The odds weren’t in Boston’s favor entering Tuesday’s slate of games after falling to the Magic last Friday night.

The Celtics, who led by as many as 35 points Tuesday, needed to blow out the Bulls by 23 or more. They also needed the Nets to win by 18 or fewer once Boston’s 27-point win was secured.

Even with a victory all but secured, Joe Mazzulla and his team still looked to build a sizable advance in order to inflate Boston’s point differential — rolling with their starters in the fourth quarter while later fouling Chicago big man Andre Drummond on back-to-back possessions to get the poor free-throw shooter to the charity stripe.

The Celtics’ commitment to running up the score paid dividends, with Boston now standing as one of eight teams that will advance to the knockout round of the in-season tournament.

The quarterfinal round will commence on Dec. 4, with the field featuring the winners of the six groups along with two “wild card” teams that are determined by the best record among second-place teams in group play.

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Those eight teams will take part in single-elimination games starting next week, with the semifinals and finals of the tournament to take place in Las Vegas on Dec. 7 and Dec. 9, respectively.



Source: Boston Globe

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