For the second night in a row, the Boston Celtics struggled mightily on the offensive end.
And for the second night in a row, it didn’t matter, as the Celtics overcame a quiet first half to secure an 87-85 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday at Barclays Center.
The Celtics never led in the first half, but put together a 10-0 run midway through the third quarter to take the lead and build momentum. And though the teams would trade the lead eight times in the fourth quarter, the Nets missed three shots in the final four seconds of the game, allowing the Celtics to secure their sixth straight win.
Kyrie Irving led all Celtics scorers with 21 points. Jayson Tatum (14), Marcus Smart (11) and Aron Baynes (10) also scored in double figures.
Spencer Dinwiddie paced the Nets offensively with 20 points.
With the win, the Celtics climbed to 33-10, while the Nets fell to 15-24.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Marcus Morris
C: Aron Baynes
CELTICS OFFENSE STARTS SLOW … AGAIN
Boston again came out of the gate slow on the offensive end, never leading in the first quarter, while missing all six attempts from 3-point territory.
Though keeping things close with the Nets, Brooklyn opened up a 7-0 run in 57 seconds during the final three minutes and change of the quarter, ultimately rounding out the frame with a six-point advantage.
NETS KEEP BOSTON AT ARM’S LENGTH
The Celtics put together an 8-2 run in the first three minutes of the second to even the scoreline. But with the game locked at 34 with 3:58 to play in the half, the Nets countered with a 7-0 run over 2:45 to build some room between them and the Celtics.
In the final minute, however, the Celtics scored five unanswered points to head into the break down 41-39.
C’S CLAIM THE LEAD
After chipping away at Brooklyn’s lead during the early stages of the third, the Celtics finally broke through and took their first lead of the game 5:29 into the quarter on an Irving floater that put Boston up 51-50.
A 10-0 run over 2:55 in the middle of the period paved the way for the Celtics to take the lead, which they didn’t give up the remainder of the third. And although the Nets pulled within one in the final 12 seconds of the quarter, Marcus Morris hit a deep two just before the buzzer to send the Celtics into the final quarter with a three-point advantage.
Irving began to heat up in the third, scoring nine of Boston’s 25 points on 4-for-8 shooting.
BACK-AND-FORTH FINAL QUARTER
The lead changed eight times in the fourth quarter, and was tied on six more instances.
Tatum had a monster sequence in the closing moments of the game that ultimately proved pivotal. After driving the baseline and throwing down a thunderous dunk to put the Celtics up 84-83 with 1:16 to play, Dinwiddie missed a layup on the other end. And after Irving missed his layup the ensuing possession, he gathered his own rebound and kicked it out to Tatum, who hit a 3-pointer to put Boston up four.
The Nets pulled within two with 36 seconds to play, but were unable to cash in on three shots in their final possession as time expired.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Your regular reminder that Jayson Tatum only is 19 years old.
The Celtics will head to London for the “NBA London Game 2018” against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday. Tip-off from O2 Arena is set for 3 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images.