The Brooklyn Nets took it to the Boston Celtics early on and never let up in a 130-108 blowout win during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference first-round series.
The second-seeded Nets asserted themselves at both ends and led by as much as 27 in the first half and 33 in the third quarter.
Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant scored a game-high 26 points, but it was sharpshooter Joe Harris who provided the biggest first-half spark as he scored 22 of his 25 points before the break. James Harden added 20 of his own while Kyrie Irving chipped in 15.
Marcus Smart scored a team-high 19 points as four of the five starters — all but Jayson Tatum — scored double figures. Tatum, who finished with nine points, played 21 minutes before leaving the game in the third quarter with an eye injury. He did not return. Kemba Walker (17), Evan Fournier (16) and Tristan Thompson (15) all scored double figures.
Here’s how it went down:
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Evan Fournier
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Tristan Thompson
Head coach Brad Stevens said before Tuesday’s game how he was hoping the Celtics would improve their ball movement after a Game 1 loss. That was not the case early on as the C’s recorded just one first-quarter assist and played too much isolation.
The Nets, meanwhile, were sharing the basketball and benefitted from the ball finding the open man. Harris tended to be that open man, as the sharpshooter hit all four of his first-quarter 3-pointers en route to 16 points in 12 minutes. Brooklyn recorded 12 assists as a team with Durant and Irving each scoring eight points on an identical 3-for-6 from the field.
The Nets shot 61 percent (16-for-26) in the first half en route to taking a 40-26 lead after the first quarter.
The Celtics shot 38 percent (8-for-21) and 29 percent from three (2-for-7). Again, they had one assist on those eight baskets.
Tatum scored just three points on 1-for-5 shooting while Walker led the C’s with nine points, five of which came at the free throw line.
BROOKLYN PULLS AWAY
Nothing got better for the Celtics in the second quarter as Boston started the period with three turnovers on their first four possessions.
Meanwhile, the Nets opened up with a 7-0 run behind a pair of 3-pointers by Harden (including a four-point play). Brooklyn took its first 20-point lead, 46-26, just 14 minutes into the game. The hosts continued to get whatever they wanted offensively, too, as they extended their lead to 27 before taking a 71-47 lead at the half.
The Celtics were careless with the basketball, best depicted as Boston had more turnovers (nine) than assists (seven) in the half. The Nets, in stark contrast, recorded 19 first-half assists and just three first-half turnovers.
Brooklyn’s Harris continued to stay hot, and benefitted from Boston’s inability to stay with him on the defensive end. The seven-year veteran scored a playoff career high (22 points on 8-for-11) before being taken out with four minutes left in the first half.
Tatum finished the first half with seven points on 2-for-10 from the field. Walker scored 13 first-half points while Fournier scored 10.
Did the Celtics play a little better in the third quarter? Slightly. But it continued to look like a varsity versus junior varsity scrimmage as the Nets extended their lead to as much of 33 before taking a 109-82 advantage into the final quarter.
Tatum exited the game after playing just three minutes in the third. He left after being poked in the eye and the team then announced he would not return.
And for a team that has Durant, Harden and Irving, they continued to receive contributions from others. Blake Griffen turned back the clock and looked like his athletic self in the third, too, before adding double figures (11 points in 20 minutes).
(For what it’s worth, the Celtics official Twitter account did not post a highlight from either the second or third quarters.)
NEVER IN DOUBT
The Nets didn’t need to play Durant or Irving during the fourth quarter as the game was never in doubt. Boston trailed by 20 or more points throughout the entire fourth quarter.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Atleast Robert Williams is fun to watch?
The Celtics will return to Boston to host the Nets in Game 3 of their first-round series Friday with tip from TD Garden set for 8:30 p.m. ET.