The Celtics extended their NBA playoffs first-round series lead over the Nets on Wednesday, but the win didn’t come easy.
Boston was all out of sorts in the first quarter of Game 2 against Brooklyn at TD Garden. The second frame was better for the C’s but only marginally, as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and company at one point pushed their lead to 17 points.
The second half, however, was a completely different story for the second-seeded Celtics. Ime Udoka’s team was far more efficient on offense and employed absolutely tenacious defense, especially on Durant. When all was said and done, Boston secured a 114-107 win and a 2-0 series advantage.
Needing to kick it up a notch in the latter stages of the game is something the C’s were prepared for. Al Horford made as much clear when he addressed the team in the locker room after the final buzzer sounded.
“We took their punch. We talked about that, right?” Horford said, per a team-provided video. “Remember, we said they were going to come out and hit us. We took their punch, we stayed with it and we did what we had to do. We protected home court. Good job. We got a long way to go.”
Horford and the Celtics probably can expect more haymakers from the Nets in Game 3, which will mark Brooklyn’s first game of the series on its home court. But at this point, it’s tough to envision the Nets hitting the C’s hard enough to keep Boston down for a 10-count.