Final, Nets win 114-98: Thank goodness that’s over.
The Brooklyn Nets shot 56 percent from the field, scored at least 30 points in two separate quarters and trounced the Boston Celtics in the paint 62-30. Joe Johnson led the Nets (36-31) with 27 points, but it was Mason Plumlee, coming a point shy of tying his career-high with 18 points, who showed what a struggle this was for the Celtics (23-47).
Avery Bradley had a game-high 28 points by hitting 12 of his 19 shots, including a perfect 8-for-8 in the second quarter, but his hot shooting wasn’t enough to overcome Boston’s utter lack of defense.
Fourth quarter, 5:38, Nets 105-86: It’s Mirza Teletovic time! And Rajon Rondo time, for some reason.
With Brooklyn’s lead ballooning, coach Jason Kidd has emptied his bench. He’s got Teletovic, Thornton and Alan Anderson, none of whom have ever met a shot they didn’t like, and they’re living up to their shot-happy reputation. Even Jason Collins is coming in.
Brad Stevens isn’t taking a similar strategy. Rondo, Bradley and Jared Sullinger are all out there, perhaps to get some extra run in. Or something.
Fourth quarter, 8:57, Nets 98-81: Jeff Green got a dunk and … that’s about it.
The opening minutes of the fourth quarter have gone pretty much how the whole game has gone. The Nets pretty much get whatever they want, whether it’s a putback by Jorge Gutierrez or a backdoor layup by Marcus Thornton.
End of third quarter, Nets 92-76: Well, the Celtics didn’t give up 30 points in that quarter. So there’s that.
The deficit ballooned to as many as 18 points, though, as the Celtics continued to not put up much resistance defensively. Rondo started to get into the paint a little, giving himself eight points and 10 assists for the game, but the Celtics just don’t have any answers at the other end.
Joe Johnson got hot, draining a pair of 3-pointers in Green’s eye. Plumlee has 18 points, just one off his career high. The Nets are shooting 59 percent and have 46 points in the paint.
It’s not pretty if you’re a Celtics fan.
Third quarter, 6:36, 79-63: The Nets just keep getting smaller and smaller in the Celtics’ sights. That’s because they’re getting farther and farther away.
The Nets have kept rolling along, particularly in the post, where they’re now outscoring Boston an absurd 40-14. Humphries and Bass have been working inside, but it hasn’t led to a lot of success, aside from an and-one layup by Bass in traffic.
Halftime, Nets 64-54: Avery Bradley helped the Celtics cause by literally not missing in the second quarter. But offense is still only one part of the game.
The Celtics are getting reamed on defense, letting the Nets shoot 58 percent from the field and 56 percent from three. They left Deron Williams wide-open for a 3-pointer out of a timeout, which is close to unforgivable. Mason Plumlee is stalking a career high with 14 points, and he also hasn’t missed; he’s 5-for-5.
Chances are even Bradley, who was 8-for-8 in the second and now has a game-high 23 points, is less worried about his point total than his team’s poor defense. He scored 18 of Boston’s 26 points in the second quarter but actually saw the deficit expand.
Honestly, look at this:
Yeah, AB's hot, but then there's these numbers: Nets 30pts, 50% FG, 3-for-6 threes, 14-6 pts in paint, 11-0 second-chance pts in 2nd qtr.—
Ben Watanabe (@BenjeeBallgame) March 22, 2014
Second quarter, 1:32, Nets 58-52: Anything Green can do, Pierce can do, too.
Green unleashed a nifty spin, step-back jump shot, only to watch Pierce come down and swish a step-back of his own. The two former teammates even had a quick laugh about the back-and-forth on their way back down the court.
Pierce and the Nets should be in a good mood, because the Celtics continue to be awfully nice to them. Plumlee now has 14 points, including a roaring left-handed tomahawk over Kris Humphries.
Second quarter, 6:18, Nets 47-45: Bradley remains white-hot, but it would help the Celtics’ cause a lot if they could stop somebody. The Nets are cruising along, shooting at a 63 percent clip, and are outscoring Boston in the paint 30-12.
Without any defense happening, the Celtics aren’t making much use of Bradley’s 15-point quarter.
Second quarter, 8:30, game tied 41-41: Avery Bradley is a one-man band here in the second quarter.
Fresh off his fresh tape job, Bradley scored four straight Celtics baskets, including a pull-up 3-pointer, to boost the Celtics’ drab offense. Kelly Olynyk finished the run with an open-floor dunk to tie it, but we’re pretty sure he should have passed it backwards to Bradley for a contested three.
He probably would have hit it.
End of first quarter, Nets 36-28: Once again, the Celtics couldn’t buy a basket in the first quarter. But it definitely was not Jeff Green’s fault.
Green has a game-high 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting, despite facing a couple of tricky defenders in Paul Pierce and Andrei Kirlenko. He’s the only Boston player shooting even 50 percent from the field as the Celtics finish the quarter shooting 9-for-25.
The Nets are having an easy all-around time, moving the ball briskly for nine assists on 13 buckets and turning the ball over three times. The Celtics just aren’t offering much resistance on defense at all.
The best news of the first quarter for the Celtics was that Bradley was not seriously hurt. He got his right ankle re-taped and returned to the game, even flipping a running bank shot home to supply one of Boston’s few baskets.
First quarter, 6:28, Nets 17-15: Who does Mason Plumlee think he is? Udonis Haslem?
Two days after Haslem lit up the Celtics in the first half, Plumlee is having similar success. The rookie big man has eight points and has hit all three shots he’s taken, plus two free throws. It’s pretty much all dunks, but the box score doesn’t distinguish the degree of difficulty.
First quarter, 10:19, Celtics 5-4: This is not a good sign for the Celtics. Avery Bradley, who has struggled with ankle injuries all season, appeared to turn his ankle again on a shot attempt.
Bradley quickly left for the locker room with athletic trainer Ed Lacerte. He was hobbling, but walking on his own.
6:23 p.m.: The Nets will looks like a bunch of Bums tonight.
Fans of the old Brooklyn Dodgers will be thrilled to see the Nets’ uniforms, featuring a blue-and-gray motif in homage to the franchise of Duke, Jackie and PeeWee. Naturally, they’ll have sleeves, just like the Dodgers’ old jerseys.
Thankfully, however, they won’t be button-down.
Check out the alternate jersey in the tweet below.
The Brooklyn Nets are wearing throwback jerseys tonight in recognition of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Here's KG's jersey http://t.co/twd5KzN1XM—
Marc D'Amico (@Marc_DAmico) March 21, 2014
6 p.m. ET: It’s late in the season, and it’s all starting to come together for Paul Pierce and his team.
Boston Celtics fans got used to this story every spring, but this time around, their beloved former captain is surging toward the postseason for a different club. In their final meeting of the season, the Brooklyn Nets (35-31) will welcome the Celtics (23-46), who aren’t so much the Net’s latest opponent as they are their latest victim.
The Nets are red-hot since the All-Star break, winning 11 out of 15 games, and have risen to fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Despite their atrocious start to the season, the Nets are now battling for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Celtics are flying high, too, as a result of their win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday, which snapped a five-game losing streak. Rajon Rondo came within a point of a triple-double in that game, but he settled for just the win. The next obstacle is something Boston has only done once since Feb. 7: win consecutive games.