Celtics-Nets is going to be an absolute dogfight. It took all 48 minutes right down to the final second to separate the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets. Ultimately, it was a Jayson Tatum layup at the buzzer that made the difference. The last two minutes of this game were the very definition of playoff basketball.
TATUM GAME WINNER ? pic.twitter.com/BMqJYiolNt
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 17, 2022
Tatum’s 31 points and eight assists led the way for the Celtics, but Kyrie Irving was the best player on the floor in TD Garden. Irving erupted for 39 points, 18 of which came in the fourth quarter, and we can put a few middle fingers into his box score as well.
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) April 17, 2022
MAIS KYRIE ??????????????? pic.twitter.com/rjLMpgF4JJ
— TrashTalk (@TrashTalk_fr) April 17, 2022
When some players start responding to the crowd, it can backfire. That’s far from the case with Irving. Rather, he fed off the boos to lead the Nets back from double digits down in the second half.
Irving was phenomenal. Kevin Durant was not. The physicality of Boston’s swarming defense was a major factor in Game 1. Durant missed 15 of his 24 shots and turned the ball over six times. That’s not the typical KD performance we have come to expect in the playoffs.
Durant will find his rhythm sooner or later in this series, but the Nets need more from the supporting cast. Andre Drummond, Seth Curry, and Bruce Brown only combined for 22 points. Again, physicality was a factor in why this trio struggled. All three guys found themselves in foul trouble.
On a positive note, Goran Dragic and Nic Claxton provided solid minutes off the bench. Claxton is blossoming before our very eyes and Dragic doesn’t blink in the playoffs.
A potential Ben Simmons return would change the calculus in this series, but we all know one thing about the Simmons situation — we know nothing. Reports of ramp-ups have been greatly exaggerated. Or maybe they haven’t! It’s impossible to know.
What’s Next for the Nets?
Players win championships, but the adjustments coaches make from game to game can flip a series on its head.
Nash was outcoached by Mike Budenholzer when the Nets lost in seven games to the Milwaukee Bucks last year. In his defense, he was handcuffed with injuries to Irving and James Harden.
The Nets need the supporting cast to play better, but they aren’t going anywhere if their best player struggles. How can Nets coach Steve Nash help alleviate the pressure from Durant?
It’s unlikely that Durant will be this out of sync for the rest of the series. That’s the silver lining for Nets fans after Game 1. Kyrie is cooking and KD will figure it out. This is going to be a long series.