The Boston Celtics compiled the NBA’s best record (43-12) ahead of the All-Star Game, finishing off that run with a trampling win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Boston outscored Brooklyn by 50 points in a 136-86 blowout to add a sixth straight win before Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown headed to Indianapolis for All-Star weekend. Even without Brown available to play, the Celtics still shot 57.1% from the field, 48.9% from three and outscored the Nets, 46-32, inside the paint, making the battle one-sided for the majority of Brooklyn’s four-quarter punishment.

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla even had the luxury of sitting each of Boston’s starters for the fourth quarter, with zero worries of coughing up the convincing lead. That made for a nice, easy trot to a week off for a Celtics team that’s earned a breather. But on the flip side, Brooklyn felt the need to axe its head coach.

The Nets fired Jacque Vaughn on Monday after a 21-33 start, which placed Brooklyn in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, just five days after the loss to Boston.

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“This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we feel is in the best interest of the team going forward,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said when addressing Vaughn’s exit, according to Ben Church of CNN.

Vaughn was promoted last season, taking over for then-fired head coach Steve Nash, and helped Brooklyn maintain a playoff-caliber run, even after Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving forced their way out at the trade deadline. That alone was notable, yet even with a mediocre core now headlined by Ben Simmons, who’s undergoing an identity crisis, Vaughn led the Nets to a dreadful 8-18 run since Christmas Eve.

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The Celtics, who’ve gone undefeated in four regular-season matchups with the Nets, certainly didn’t help Vaughn’s case. A few seasons ago, when the front office linked Durant, Irving and eventually James Harden, the East wasn’t as wide-open for Boston to take over. But as the Nets crumbled in living up to their hype with an excuse jar filled to the brim, Brooklyn has quickly returned to becoming a punching bag for teams like the Celtics.

Boston defeated Brooklyn by double figures on three occasions with the 50-point beatdown being the chef’s kiss symbolizing where both organizations stand respectively moving forward.

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It’d be disingenuous to pile up all the blame on Vaughn. To begin, the 49-year-old was promoted on very dicey circumstances and the expectation heading into the 2023-24 season wasn’t that the Nets were poised to contend and hang with the powerhouses of the East. If anything, this season was a bridge year for Brooklyn to get an understanding of what pieces could be dealt in order to pile up on some much-needed draft positioning for the future.

Brooklyn’s downward spiral won’t end with Vaughn’s exit, but it does signal the start of a handful of changes needed to dig the franchise out of its divot, which by each day, gets even deeper.

Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images