The Boston Celtics rallied from down 17 to take a commanding 2-0 lead against the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs with the 114-107 win. Jaylen Brown sparked in the fourth quarter to push the Celtics ahead for good, finishing with 22 points. 7 players scored in double figures for the Celtics. Kevin “won’t shoot 9-for-24 again” Durant scored 27 points on 4-for-17 shooting with 6 turnovers.
This game was really, really weird. It opened up on a 9-0 Bruce Brown run, and the first quarter ended on a 9-0 Grant Williams run. Somewhere in the second quarter, there was a 6-0 Marcus Smart run. The first two games of this series have been some of the worst the Boston Celtics have looked offensively since the trade deadline, but their defense has made the Brooklyn Nets look out of sorts all series as well.
Not too shabby on offense either pic.twitter.com/wwYdBdTijR— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 21, 2022
Brooklyn was much more effective on the glass tonight, which helped the Nets stay in command for much of the first half. Boston didn’t do itself any favors with all of the turnovers, and with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum starting the game off super cold from the floor, it was hard to establish any sort of offensive rhythm.
Goran Dragic is killing Boston in his minutes so far this series. I never thought I’d be so happy to hear that Dragic is in foul trouble in 2022. Thankfully, his impact was muted in the second half.
Speaking of muted, has anyone heard from Kyrie Irving? I’m not sure he played tonight (10 points, 4-for-13 shooting, 0 fourth-quarter impact.)
Celtics fans collectively should send a gift card to Nic Claxton for earning a double-foul with Jayson Tatum (19 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists) in the closing moments of the second quarter. That woke Tatum up for a quick 5-0 run. For what should have been a 17-20 point deficit at the half, the Celtics closed the quarter strong, cutting the lead to just 10 before going back to the locker room.
This game really was a fight between role players. Kyrie Irving’s played significantly worse than the first game, and Kevin Durant played better than his Game 1 dud. The difference came when Bruce Brown got off to a strong start and then Goran Dragic scored 16 first half points, giving the pair 30 between the two of them in the opening 24 minutes. For the Celtics, Al Horford (16 points, 6 rebounds) continued being the biggest body in the paint and a steadying presence, while Daniel Theis (15 points, 6 rebounds) and Grant Williams (17 points, best career playoff game) took turns getting the Celtics easy buckets when nothing came easy.
Brad Stevens better be getting Executive of the Year for the Al Horford trade. He’s been instrumental this whole series so far, but he was particularly helpful early in the third as he sparked a Celtic run that pushed Boston all the way to tying the game midway through the period even after Horford picked up his fourth foul and needed to sub out.
It was said many times that we can’t expect Kevin Durant to continue shooting as poorly as he did in his 9-for-24 Game 1 performance, but he continued to struggle to levels unseen from him since Tony Allen was in the league.
The second half featured more of Boston doing good things offensively, but none of it came easy. Seth Curry (16 points) out-performed Kyrie Irving, but it was a relief to not have to contend with both of them being on.
When the fourth quarter lights turned on, Jaylen Brown snapped out of his funk for the second game in a row. He was ELECTRIC, scoring inside, outside, and making the right play pretty much every trip down. The Nets were UNDER the jail to start the fourth quarter, shooting only 2/12 by the halfway mark of the quarter as Boston went on a 15-2 run behind Jaylen Brown and checks notes Payton Pritchard (10 points on 5-7 shooting).
This shot is where I personally lost it:
Some grifting down the stretch later, and Boston took control at the freethrow line as Kevin Durant teetered on the line of fouling out. Boston was the more physical team as Durant bricked fadeaway jumpshot after fadeaway jumpshot. Boston’s shot-making ability spiked in the final part of the game, with Jayson Tatum taking over with a dizzying array of moves to punish smaller players guarding him.
Brown, Smart and Pritchard took turns twisting the dagger into the flesh of the Nets, and that was all she wrote. 14 wins left for Banner 18.
Whatever it is you do to celebrate, do that tonight. This year’s Celtics deserve it.
The Celtics own a 2-0 lead over the Brooklyn Nets heading into Saturday night’s Game 3 in Brooklyn.
For more postgame coverage of the Boston taking a 2-0 lead in the series, tune into the the Garden Report Postgame Show LIVE on https://www.clnsmedia.com/ right after the game. Join A Sherrod Blakely, Bobby Manning, Josue Pavon, Jimmy Toscano and host John Zannis for a full breakdown. Plus, the guys will discuss how Grant Williams stepped up to save the day.