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No sweep till Brooklyn: 10 Takeaways from Celtics-Nets Game 4

Boston earned a sweep over Brooklyn and advanced to the Eastern Conference semi-finals

2022 NBA Playoffs - Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

1. Oh, how sweep it is!

Even the most homerific of Boston Celtics fans wasn’t really thinking they’d sweep the Brooklyn Nets. Yet, here we are.

Yes, every game was close. But that’s sort of the beauty of it. The Celtics learned to close and they did it against one of the better offensive teams in the league.

After the game, Boston reflected on all the talk of ducking Brooklyn. To a man, they all said that’s not who they are. And it’s going to get harder from here, but these Celtics seem like they’re up to task, no matter who the opponent is.

2. Jayson Tatum is so skilled, that sometimes it goes overlooked just how big he is too. That showed up in this game, as Boston did some mismatch hunting throughout the game.

On this play, Tatum and Payton Pritchard work a simple screen action to get Kyrie Irving switched onto Tatum. But Irving is too small and too late to bother this jumper:

In the second half, Tatum doesn’t even use a dribble here to create any space. He just rises and fires over Seth Curry:

A little later, Tatum went to work on Bruce Brown in the post. Look where Tatum starts his move vs where he finishes the finger roll. That’s size and length at work:

3. Jaylen Brown did his fair share of carrying the offense throughout this series too. In Game 4, he got going early, but saved some of his best work for the second half.

Boston did a lot of work attacking the very bad Brooklyn transition defense. No one was better about it than Jaylen Brown. He’s off to the rim here almost as soon as he catches the ball:

With Jayson Tatum on the bench in foul trouble, and the offense scuffling a bit, Brown came up with a huge three-point play over Kyrie Irving:

Late in the game, with Boston clinging to the lead, Brown finished around Bruce Brown and Kevin Durant to just about seal the game:

4. Marcus Smart did his thing as a playmaker early on. He finished with 11 assists, with most of them coming in the first three quarters. No one loves throwing the Rob Lob more than Smart does. But this play is one that Smart let develop to get there.

The Celtics forced two switches. First, Nic Claxton and Bruce Brown switch the Rob Williams and Jayson Tatum action. Then, Smart and Tatum run a screen play to get Seth Curry and Nic Claxton switched up. That allows Smart to get downhill with options. He can try to score himself, kick it out to Tatum or lob it up for Rob:

Late the game, Smart took on some of the scoring load. This wasn’t Smart’s initial play, but it shows how great his instincts are to go to the boards for the tip-in:

After Tatum fouled out, Smart helped out Jaylen Brown as the attacker. Smart fumbled the ball, but he’s so strong that he got it back and finished anyway:

5. Throughout the series, there were a couple of themes that developed on the negative side for the Celtics: turnovers and rebounding. In Game 4, Boston cut down on both. The Celtics had 13 turnovers, which is a perfectly acceptable number for a playoff game. And they mostly eliminated the sloppy, live-ball ones.

On the boards, Boston held Brooklyn to just eight offensive rebounds. That was a stark difference from earlier in the series.

This is also a good place to point out that Ime Udoka has the team’s full attention. He said pregame that they were focused on controlling the ball and limiting Brooklyn to one shot. Mission accomplished.

6. With Rob Williams back, Al Horford’s minutes were cut back the last two games. That’s a welcomed development, as Horford playing 40-plus high-leverage minutes was never sustainable.

And Horford still had a big impact. This is just stealing offense on a transition post-up:

Fresh legs are part of what allowed Horford to be there for the shot that basically put the Nets away:

7. The Celtics had 26 assists on 42 baskets. That’s good stuff, considering the nature of a playoff game lending itself towards more 1-on-1 play. This little give-and-go between Marcus Smart and Derrick White was a new one:

Grant Williams was also the regular beneficiary of some good passing. Drive, kick, swing, swing, splash:

Jayson Tatum is reading the floor so well right now. He sees Seth Curry pinch in to help as he catches it. This ball is going over the top to Rob Williams if Nic Claxton cheats up. He doesn’t, so it’s off to Grant in the corner office:

To end the first half, it’s a similar-ish look. This time Tatum catches Kyrie Irving cheating off Grant Williams. Tatum hits Grant to beat the buzzer:

8. The shots above were just one half of Grant Williams’ big night. He was also terrific on the defensive end. Here’s a snippet of Williams getting to work.

Recovering to get a piece of a Kyrie Irving pullup is no small thing:

Look how high up the floor Williams is defending Kevin Durant to start this play. He does a great job of moving his feet to stay in front of Durant, which causes the fumbled away turnover:

You only block a transition three off a closeout because you hustle and dig deep:

One more time with feeling! Williams just locks up Durant here. There’s nowhere for Durant to go, but to launch a contested jumper:

Grant did a lot of GRANT! stuff in this series and proved his value to any doubters that might remain.

9. Yes, we all want to see Derrick White make his jumpers. At some point, it’s probably going to be necessary too. But don’t miss the forest for the trees here. White had a good defensive series. He also did his ball-mover and playmaker things. And he’s made some tough baskets too. This is a good attack in transition, followed by the patient finish for the and-1:

10. Well, that was fun! As Ime Udoka said “Celebrate bit on the flight home and back to work on Tuesday to prepare for whatever is next.”

That what’s next is unknown right now. It looks like it will be the Milwaukee Bucks, as they hold a 3-1 series lead over the Chicago Bulls. Game 5 of that series isn’t until Wednesday night, so Boston is guaranteed several days off here.

That rest is always welcomed at this time of year. It will allow Al Horford to recover, as he’s going to be a massive part of the presumed defensive gameplan against Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The extra days without games will allow Rob Williams to continue to knock the rust off with some practices too.

Stay tuned here to CelticsBlog for continuing coverage of the Boston Celtics 2022 NBA Playoffs run.