Brooklyn certainly started Sunday's game playing with more urgency than they did on Friday. That combined with a sluggish start for the Celtics had the green with a five point deficit after one.
The second quarter did not go nearly as well tonight for the Celtics as it did on Friday. Things started promisingly with a triple from Terry Rozier, but Brooklyn quickly went on a run to go up 39-27. It felt like Andrea Bargnani hit a free throw line jumper every time down the floor, and the lead ballooned to 17 for a 59-42 Nets lead at the half.
First half highlights included a huge Avery Bradley block on a Thad Young dunk attempt and a nice sequence for Nets rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson at the end of the first quarter, who followed a big block on a David Lee attempt with a putback slam.
The Celtics started the second half with a clear effort to pick up the defensive intensity. The Nets still continued to hit a number of contested and off-balanced shots, but that defensive effort would soon pay off. With Isaiah Thomas more assertive and Bradley hitting shots from all over the court, the Celtics were able to cut into the Brooklyn lead. The Celtics were down 13 heading to a timeout with 1:30 to go, and then came out in a zone for the rest of the quarter, which confused the Nets. After another Bradley three and a pretty Zeller lefty hook shot, the Celtics headed to the 4th only down by 8. Bradley and imposed their will on the game in the 3rd quarter, and had 22 and 23 points respectively heading to the 4th.
The Celtics came out in the 4th with the same defensive intensity that has made them the best defensive team in the league so far this season, and cut the lead all the way down to four at 90-86 with nine minutes to play. The Nets responded as they did all night, but the Celtics kept fighting. Jae Crowder hit a three with under two minutes to go that could have been an and-1 and would have brought the Celtics to within four with the free throw, but instead Crowder was whistled for an offensive foul.
Thomas and Bradley had huge games, each going for 27, but the Celtics didn't have a strong enough effort in the first half to pull off the home and home sweep.