New Jersey 88, Boston 79
Say what you will. Say it was a back to back, say the Celtics are key missing guys, say the shots just weren't falling, but this game could've been won with just a little more push and a little less give.
The Celtics started didn't really start out very well in the first, and quickly got down five by about the 6 minute mark in the first, but after that there was a window, where it looked like this was going to be another blowout.
The Celtics charged ahead to score 14 straight points, led by Nenad Krstic, Glen Davis, and Jeff Green. They closed out the first up 9, 23-14.
But, it was followed directly by some messy play and some missed jumpers by Boston and some timely baskets by New Jersey, which resulted in the Nets taking the lead before the 4 minute mark in the 2nd.
From there it was mostly even until around 2 minutes left in the third, where the Nets went on a tear, going on a 9-2 tear capitalized by a buzzer beating three pointer from Sundiata Gaines, to put the Nets up 6 to end the third.
The Nets continued to build their lead, and it got as big as twelve, but when it looked really grim, Boston fought back. They didn't waive the white flag, and clawed their way back in the game in a way that can only be described as 'dogged'. Tough play from Paul Pierce, a hot stretch from outside from Glen Davis, and Boston found themselves down only two with 4 and a half minutes left in the game..but that's when they lost it.
New Jersey just made their shots down the stretch. That's what it came down to. I don't know if it was better mental toughness or lucky rolls or what, but everytime the Celtics looked poised to capitalize and get back into the game, New Jersey would hit a big shot, or Boston would make a mistake. Whether it was huge 3 pointer to put the game out of reach by Deron Williams, or a stupid lazy foul from Rajon Rondo to send Anthony Morrow to the line for 3 shots with 3:40 left.
In the end, Boston just couldn't get themselves in a position to win this game as time ran out, and New Jersey took advantage of the chances they had. At least we can say it doesn't feel like it did last year, maybe that's the lesson. Maybe the lesson is 'yeah this exact same thing happened last year, but this isn't last year.'