Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden combine to score 82 points in a 104-93 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 1.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night, but the final result is all that matters. The big three — Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving — needed 24 minutes to find their rhythm, but once they found it, there was no looking back.
The Nets were actually down at halftime, trailing 53-47. In his walk-off interview, Durant mentioned that he felt like they were all a bit jumpy early on in this game, but settled down in the second half.
The big three scored 82 points in total, 49 of which came in the second half. Irving went off for 20 points in the second half while Durant and Harden chipped in with 16 and 13, respectively. All of this came on a combined 5-for-24 (20.8%) from three-point range.
Despite the slow start, the stat lines for Durant, Harden, and Irving are gaudy. It’s going to be an uphill battle for any team trying to slow them down. Boston has two excellent one-on-one defenders in Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum, but neither could do enough to stop Brooklyn.
Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash could get used to this. After a full season of juggling rotations, a rotating starting lineup, and 27 different players suiting up for the Nets, Nash can finally start leaning on his superstars. Expect Durant, Harden, and Irving to all play big minutes from here on out.
The Unlikely Hero? Defense
Seeing the big three dominate in the second half with a flurry of mid-range buckets is surprising to absolutely no one. However, their defense is what kept them within striking distance of the Celtics. Jayson Tatum was 0-for-6 from the field in the second half, scoring just seven points from the free-throw line.
Brooklyn did a good job at slowing down Kemba Walker as well. He knocked down a couple of garbage time buckets, but he was non-existent for most of the second half.
Of the four playoff games played on Saturday, Boston scored the fewest points. In fact, 93 points is the fewest points scored by any team in the postseason (including play-in games).
This is a promising start for the Nets considering the fact that their defense has been a concern all year long. If Game 1 was proof of anything, it’s that Brooklyn is capable of defending at a high level when everyone is engaged and connected.
What’s Next for the Nets?
Brooklyn and Boston will run it back in Game 2 on Tuesday night in Barclays Center (7:30 p.m. ET). The Nets won’t need to make a ton of adjustments between now and then.
If there is one move Nash could make, it would be going a bit bigger. Brooklyn had trouble with Robert Williams III’s physicality inside. The center scored 11 points while scooping up nine rebounds and blocking nine shots.