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Celtics earn tough 124-114 road win against Nets

Boston remain undefeated and picked up their seventh straight win in Brooklyn.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Another team bites the dust as the Boston Celtics move to 5-0 on the season after a 124-114 win over the Brooklyn Nets. As fans, we’ve been accustomed lately to blowout wins, but this was anything but that. The gritty Nets didn’t go down without a fight. However, when it came down to business time in the fourth quarter, the Celtics flexed their superiority led by Jayson Tatum, Jrue Holiday, and Al Horford making big plays when needed.

With Nic Claxton and Ben Simmons out for the Nets, the game plan to start the game was clear for all to see — attack the paint. On the C’s opening two possessions, Kristaps Porzingis scored in the post, then Horford (starting in place of Derrick White) cleaned up the offensive glass and scored. When both Horford and Porzingis were on the court, the Celtics controlled the glass and tried to score in the paint.

Brooklyn’s game plan was to make Boston guard them and shoot threes. On offense, the Nets forced Porzingis and Horford out to the perimeter. Once the bigs were on the outside, the Nets attacked the mismatch with drive and kicks. The Nets connected on five threes on fourteen attempts in the first.

Despite the Celtics getting out to a strong start leading 22-13 early on, the Nets would close the quarter on a 21-12 run.

In the second quarter, Tatum started to take over. From his trademark step-back three to using his strength to get to the rim, Tatum couldn’t be stopped in the second. Midway through the second quarter, an and-1 by Tatum got him to 10,000 career points after the free throw to make it 52-48 with 5:05 left in the quarter. Tatum is the youngest Celtic ever to reach 10,000 points.

With a six-point lead (56-50) and 3:16 left in the half, the Celtics closed the quarter on a 14-8 run which was capped off with a buzzer-beating three from Tatum to go into halftime winning 70-58.

Tatum had 21 points on 50% shooting to lead the C’s at half, while Cam Thomas was pacing Brooklyn scoring 14.

The Nets came out strong in the third quarter with an 11-2 run which extended to a 15-6 run four minutes into the third (76-73).

For every Celtics run, the Nets answered with a bucket from Thomas, Mikal Bridges, or Spencer Dinwiddie to keep Brooklyn in the game. They outscored the Celtics 30-21 in the third to go into the fourth trailing 91-88.

Entering the fourth quarter, the stats across both teams were similar other than the turnovers which is a reason Brooklyn stayed in the game. The Nets had only three turnovers compared to Boston’s nine.

Boston started the fourth with Brissett, Pritchard, Tatum, Hauser, and Kornet and they held their own, giving the rest of Boston’s starters a rest. Kornet gave Boston solid minutes including a strong pick-and-roll finish.

Brooklyn cut the lead to one with 7:45 left after a Dennis Smith Jr. three, but it was immediately responded with a Tatum three after Brissett kept the possession alive with an offensive rebound.

Boston got control after a sequence of buckets from Holiday and Tatum giving the Celtics a 110-99 lead with 5:10 remaining to cap a 14-4 run. Holiday had a season-high 18 points while dishing out 10 assists. Tatum finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds.

Al Horford was an unsung hero of the night, despite only scoring eight points, he led the team in +/- with (+29) and made clutch plays down the stretch.

A Porzingis tip-in with under two minutes left all but sealed the game for Boston giving them a 117-105 lead. The big man finished with 22 points and 7 rebounds.

Boston’s next game is on the road against the Minnesota Timberwolves (3-2) with the game scheduled to tip-off at 8 p.m.

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