5 takeaways as Celtics take stranglehold on Nets with Game 3 win


“The playoffs are a different animal. To see this happen in the playoffs is great for us.”

Celtics Nets Game 3
Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics shoots towards the Brooklyn Nets throughout Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Here are the takeaways because the Celtics pulled away from the Nets in Game 3 on Saturday and claimed a commanding 3-0 lead of their first-round sequence with a 109-103 victory.

1. We will get into the myriad issues the Celtics did proper, and there’s a protracted record of them. But we must always most likely begin with this quote from Blake Griffin, who performed his first minutes in fairly a while and confirmed extra struggle than most of his teammates.

“I just feel like we didn’t have the right spirit throughout the entire game,” Griffin mentioned afterward.

Saturday was the Nets’ total season, boiled all the way down to 48 minutes, they usually had few solutions for a Celtics group decided to make life troublesome for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Bruce Brown was wonderful, and Griffin performed fairly properly (extra on that in a minute), however Durant took simply 11 pictures and scored 16 factors, whereas Irving completed 6-for-17 from the ground.

Irving is clearly an vital piece of the Nets’ puzzle, however he’s not Kevin Durant. The principle that the Nets would possibly win this sequence was based mostly on Durant’s potential to sluggish Jayson Tatum and beat the Celtics’ vaunted protection. He hasn’t actually been in a position to do both, which is much less of an indictment on him and extra of a purpose to purchase in to the Celtics as a contender. They can sluggish Durant — one of many NBA’s all-time best gamers and scorers — to a crawl, they usually seemingly broke the desire of two gamers with championship expertise. They confronted down the 7-seed no person else needed to play, and they’re now answering post-game questions on staying centered for a close-out sport with an enormous lead.

“To go through these and pull out a good win in the fourth quarter in a hostile environment, it only benefits us going forward,” Ime Udoka mentioned. “Our confidence has been high but to do it in the playoffs can help us going forward.”

What can’t this group do?

2. Early in his profession, Jayson Tatum drew comparisons to Paul George, and that most likely undersold his potential. He scored 39 factors towards the Nets on Saturday, however his protection actually stood out – Tatum is doing the inverse of what the Nets want from Durant. On Saturday, as soon as once more, he made life troublesome for the Nets star whereas excelling on the opposite finish. Tatum additionally completed with six steals and 6 assists – a glowing stat line even when he didn’t shoot notably effectively.

He even acquired M-V-P chants from a notably massive Celtics contingent within the crowd, who had been shortly booed by Nets followers.

“I mean, it feels good,” Tatum admitted. “Especially on the road. You hear it at home, but I’m certain I’m not going to win MVP this year. So just worry about winning each game and that’s all that I’m worried about.”

Tatum has been a star for some time, however this may be the primary playoff run the place we see him reworking right into a no-questions-asked celebrity.

“The playoffs are a different animal,” Ime Udoka mentioned. “To see this happen in the playoffs is great for us.”

3. Tatum will get loads of well-deserved credit score for Saturday’s win, however Jaylen Brown was wonderful within the fourth quarter. Brown completed with 23 factors on 9-for-16 taking pictures, and when Griffin regarded like he would possibly give the Celtics some actual issues, Brown was the one who attacked him on the opposite finish and stored the Nets at arm’s size. Griffin stored the Nets connected, however he couldn’t assist them achieve any floor as a result of he couldn’t even come near protecting Jaylen Brown on a swap.

“JB got rolling and myself and other guys just fed off his energy,” Tatum mentioned. “He had some big shots. He threw a pass to me in the corner. So I think his play especially in the beginning of the fourth kind of propelled us and gave everybody that spark in the rest of the fourth.”

Before the sequence, most analysts appeared to consider the Celtics had the second-best and fourth-best gamers. After three video games, it seems an terrible lot like they’ve Nos. 1 and three.

4. Robert Williams returned to the ground for the primary time since present process surgical procedure for a torn meniscus. In quarter-hour, he scored two factors, grabbed two rebounds, and dissuaded the Nets from driving at occasions along with his presence.

Still, the Celtics could be doubly inspired by his debut. First, based on Ime Udoka, Williams felt positive and regarded nice. He may have performed extra, however the group didn’t need to danger something.

“No pain, no setbacks,” Williams mentioned. “So just thankful for that.”

No dangers had been obligatory, both. Maybe equally encouraging for the Celtics: Williams didn’t actually impression the sport, they usually nonetheless claimed a 3-0 sequence lead. The Celtics want another win to comb, they’ve home-court benefit within the second spherical, they usually haven’t utterly tapped their potential within the playoffs.

“Rob and Bradley Beal are probably my two favorite players,” Tatum mentioned. “So getting Rob back is huge for our team. Even in limited minutes how much of an impact he made on the game, even if it doesn’t show up, just his presence being a lob threat, rim protector, great passer. Rob was big for us off the bench tonight. If we was going to do anything special this year, this postseason, we definitely need him.”

5. Dorchester native Bruce Brown was simply Brooklyn’s finest participant on Sunday. He defended Tatum exhausting and completed with a career-playoff excessive 26 factors on 10-for-19 taking pictures.

6. Irving raised loads of eyebrows by noting after the sport that the Nets wanted extra time to play collectively.

“I don’t wanna be cliché,” Irving mentioned, “but I don’t know how you make up time from October to now.”

Irving, after all, missed a lot of the season as a result of he refused to get vaccinated towards COVID-19, though town of Brooklyn had a vaccination mandate till not too long ago. The Nets appear to be splintering.

The Celtics didn’t take the bait postgame.

“Those guys are the best players in the world, so just trying to keep them on their toes and live with the results,” Brown mentioned. “We just have to keep going, because very easily those guys could still get it going next game or any game after, so we just want to come out, execute and live with the results, and play good basketball on offense and defense.”

The Celtics and Nets face off in Game 4 on Monday at 7 p.m.

We can have extra takeaways later this night.

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