Those who had bet on the “sweep” of the Nets by the Celtics (there were not many of them…) can break out the champagne! Jayson Tatum and his family confirmed the impression left on the three previous meetings and did not waste their first opportunity to close the series on the floor of New Yorkers. Boston thus continues its journey in the playoffs where the Nets will have to start their introspection.
With much of the eyes on him, Kevin Durant was much more incisive offensively in the first moments, despite a Celtics defense still well in place on him.
His good start to the game, weighed down by the catastrophic passages of Nic Claxton on free throws, did not prevent the Celtics, much cleaner on the penalty line, from taking control of a game in which… they will not be never conducted. Substitutes Derrick White and Grant Williams quickly contributed and Boston finished in the lead after one quarter (26-30).
This gap widened in the second quarter with a series of baskets scored by Jayson Tatum. The latter was also selfless in finding twice Grant Williams, left alone in the corner. The Celtics gave the feeling of better turning the ball while the Nets relied more on exploits, finishing or creation to find Nic Claxton precisely, Kevin Durant. He already had 20 points at the break, while Kyrie Irving was very erased, but Brooklyn was still led (50-58).
The Nets have sometimes lacked serious defensiveness, like this oversight of Kyrie Irving in front of Jaylen Brown, served by Marcus Smart, when putting the Nets defense back in place (56-67). The same Marcus Smart started to dribble before sending Rob Williams to the “alley-oop” for his only basket of the match. Then Jayson Tatum converted an award-winning basket into a racquet head… with the board. A good sign for these Celtics who saw their young star follow up with a disputed “fadeaway” then an “up and under” movement in front of Kevin Durant. Al Horford then Derrick White then offered the biggest gap in favor of the visitors (75-90) at the very end of the third quarter.
Seeming to be on the verge of collapse, the Nets reacted thanks to the outside address of Seth Curry, author almost alone of a 9-0. Several sequences of exchanges of baskets followed, with Nets mainly in the reaction. Five minutes from the end, while Blake Griffin fought a beautiful internal fight, the useful Goran Dragic brought Brooklyn back to a possession (99-102) with a “reverse lay-up” in transition, then an award-winning basket with the board for him too.
Despite Jayson Tatum’s exit on six fouls three minutes from time, Boston did not panic. Kevin Durant had nice take over Grant Williams with a “runner” to reduce the gap to one point (108-109), Jaylen Brown answered him under the circle. “KD” missed a winning shot and a decisive free throw, with 20 seconds to go, after which Marcus Smart went too easily on the counterattack and Al Horford sealed the Nets’ fate on a tap.
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
– The Celtics, first qualified! While we imagined it as one of the longest series of this first round, the Celtics took out the broom. They were the only team still able to do so at this stage since all the other teams lost at least one game. The C’s must now wait for the winner of the series between Bucks and Bulls, which is currently in favor of the defending champions (3-1).
– The Nets unanswered inside. Steve Nash has yet tried several combinations. He quickly moved on from Andre Drummond, after just four minutes of play, to send Nic Claxton, even before calling on Blake Griffin again, while still giving up on LaMarcus Aldridge. The Nets have all too often suffered from a lack of size and weight in the racket as well as on the outside positions. Result, Boston has won the rebound battle again and, for the fourth time in the series, scored more points in the opposing racket (44 to 32).
– The historic clumsiness of Nic Claxton at free throws. From his first two bricks which hit the panel, we suspected that he was going to spend a complicated evening on the line… It did not fail. The interior of the Nets, also author of a good match in the game, weighed down his team by missing… his first ten free throws. The young pivot, who nevertheless turned to 58% of success in the regular season before sinking in the playoffs, thus offered himself a shameful record held by a certain Shaquille O’Neal. In 2006, the latter had started a playoff match with an 0/8 on the line.
✅ Kevin Durant. We cannot blame the winger for not having taken his responsibilities in this part. Despite his awkwardness behind the arc, he generated the most play for the Nets, finishing and creating, while Kyrie Irving settled for 13 attempted shots.
✅ Jayson Tatum. Despite his loss of ball and a premature exit for six fouls (after a contentious contact on Goran Dragic, his coach having already used his challenge to dispute his 5th foul, offensive, a little earlier), the winger signed a very serious, without forcing.
✅ Marcus Smart. Rare double-double for the Celtics leader who shone with his “playmaking” qualities tonight by losing only one ball. He showed confidence again with his three-point shot.
✅ ⛔ Kyrie Irving. Where did Game 1’s flamboyant Kyrie Irving go? After missing his next two games, the leader signed a surprising game by taking very little of the game on his own, preferring to let Kevin Durant. But we expected more from him in such a playoff game, especially with 45 minutes of play.
Celtics : conference semi-final against the winners of the Bucks-Bulls series.
net : holidays.