“That’s playoff basketball,” Jaylen Brown said. “Ain’t nothing else to chalk it up to other than that.”
Brown was hit in the face a couple of times in Boston’s Game 1 victory over Brooklyn and spent most of the game with cotton balls in his nose to stop the bleeding and suffered nosebleeds every forty-five minutes at home. “At the end of the day, it’s a war out there. It’s survival of the fittest. You get hit, you get back up.”
In a series that was expected to showcase two of the best offenses in the league including superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and budding superstars Brown and Tatum, the first game featured extremely physical play and inconsistent officiating. In the first quarter, both teams were whistled for eighteen total fouls, the most in any game this season.
Despite the foul trouble, the Celtics will look to stay agressive on the defensive end heading into Game 2, particularly against Durant. KD finished the night shooting just 9-of-24 from the field and looked rattled against Boston’s physicality and pressure throughout the game.
After Marcus Smart won Defensive Player of the Year yesterday, head coach Ime Udoka was quick to credit the starting point guard as the table setter for the team’s mentality and approach on that side of the ball.
“Him being who he is allows us to guard the way we do as a team.” Udoka said.
Udoka, who spent last season behind enemy lines in Brooklyn as an assistant coach to Steve Nash and seven years as an NBA journeyman, has not only approached the challenge of defending two future Hall of Famers from a tactical perspective, but on a mental level, too.
“Durant and Irving are who they are. I know their mentality and how they approach the game,” Udoka said. “So, there are some benefits in me being with them and seeing how they kinda tick and how they’ve been guarded in the past.”
Despite the individualize focus on Smart’s DPoY award or the singular strategies against Durant and Irving, Boston’s focus remains on the team, the team, the team. Udoka suggested that while Smart was singled out for his defense, it’s born out of the team’s success. And for Grant Williams, who was part of the slew of players that defended Durant, there are no Batmans really.
“I trust this group with anything. It’s one of those things where I wouldn’t want to bring any other guys to war with me,” Williams said. “This group has each other’s back. This group is gonna fight to the last whistle, to the last breath. It’s one of those things where we stay together through the ups and downs. We stay together through the pains and the glory.”