Wednesday’s first quarter between the Celtics and Nets looked more like a matchup between the Globetrotters and Generals.
In a game it eventually won, 139-96, Boston (37-15) toyed with Brooklyn (31-20) every way imaginable early. The Celtics built a 21-3 edge in the first four-plus minutes, extended it to 35-7 and led by a preposterous margin of 46-16 through one.
Let that sink in for a second. Forty-six to 16. It was a massacre.
“A couple days off did us well,” Jayson Tatum told ESPN’s Katie George. “We just were fresh, locked in and ready to go from the start.”
THE MAN DON'T MISS pic.twitter.com/j3307Qz57A— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 2, 2023
Boston started 8-for-8 from 3-point range. Tatum outscored Brooklyn by himself (18-16). The Celtics shot 62.1 percent from the field and 72.7 percent from 3, compared to 28.2 and 16.7 percent for Brooklyn.
The Celtics played with excellent pace, were remarkably efficient and showed absolutely no mercy. It was as impressive as it sounds.
Brooklyn made a dent early in the second quarter, slicing it to 22, but Boston closed the half on a 17-5 flurry to take a commanding 79-45 edge into the break. Kyrie Irving (20 points) and Co. did all they could, but there was no stopping the hot-shooting Celtics on this night.
OKAY NOW THEY'RE JUST SHOWING OFF pic.twitter.com/UnlWXQCRxJ— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 2, 2023
Derrick White (14 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists) was in attack mode and gave Boston a lift in the second quarter. Jaylen Brown (26 points) hit 3 after 3. Robert Williams (16 points, 9 rebounds) was sharp at the rim his return to action.
“To get to where we want to get to, we need Rob,” Tatum told George. “We want to keep him on the floor and keep him healthy.”
Tatum, who finished with 31 points, was plus-42 in the half (it’s true; look it up), as the Celtics pieced together their highest-scoring first half since 1990.
The Celtics hit 100 with 5:03 left in the third and extended the margin to 110-72 heading to the fourth. Tatum drilled a 3 in the final seconds of the quarter, just for fun, and that was the end of his night. He finished plus-46.
Payton Pritchard, Luke Kornet and friends did their thing in the fourth quarter, but the final score was the only thing in question at that point. The outcome was never really in doubt.
This was an easy win for the Celtics, but it was also a significant one, as they resembled the team they did during their nine-game winning streak. Each of Boston’s last three home games had gone to overtime, but this one wasn’t quite as tight.
The Celtics finished with 26 3-pointers – one away from the franchise record – and have now won 10 straight over the Nets.