(REUTERS) - Jayson Tatum scored a play-off career-high 50 points to lead the Boston Celtics to a 125-119 victory over the visiting Brooklyn Nets in Game 3 of their National Basketball Association Eastern Conference first-round series on Friday (May 28) night.

The Nets lead the series 2-1 and Game 4 is on Sunday night, when a full-capacity crowd will be allowed in Boston.

Tatum produced Boston's sixth 50-point post-season game and the first since Isaiah Thomas totalled 53 in Game 2 of the 2017 Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Washington Wizards.

After shooting a combined 9 of 32 in the first two games and getting poked in the eye by Kevin Durant in Game 2, Tatum delivered a dazzling 16-for-30 performance from the field. He made five three-pointers, hit 13 of 15 free throws and dished out seven assists.

James Harden led Brooklyn with 41 points as he shot 11 of 18 and hit seven three-pointers, tying the franchise post-season record for treys.

Durant added 39 but Kyrie Irving struggled in his first appearance in front of Boston fans since leaving the Celtics in 2019. He heard boos all night and profane chants at times while being held to 16 points on 6-of-17 shooting.

Tatum reached 50 points on a crafty sequence after the Nets got within 120-115 on two free throws by Irving with 58.7 seconds left. With 41.8 seconds left, Tatum executed a crossover move on Durant for a 19-footer that made it 122-115.

Durant's three made it 123-119 with 22 seconds left but a dunk by Grant Williams with 13 seconds remaining finished it off.

Marcus Smart added 23 and converted the tiebreaking four-point play with 5:11 remaining in the third. Tristan Thompson totalled 19 points and 13 rebounds while Evan Fournier chipped in 17 points as Boston overcame an early 15-point deficit and shot 50.6 per cent.

The Nets sped out to a 19-4 lead but Boston stormed back and outscored Brooklyn 29-13 over the final 8:36 of the quarter and took a 33-32 lead on Smart's three-pointer with 12.8 seconds left. Boston expanded its lead to 59-49 on a l...