Back to Earth!
The Nets were riding high entering Wednesday, having defeated the no. 1 Bucks the night before — the biggest NBA upset in 27 years, according to Las Vegas. Furthermore, they had a chance to clinch a playoff berth following Washington’s loss to to Philadelphia earlier in the day.
It never happened. Quite the opposite actually.
They lost to the Boston Celtics in the second night of back-to-back, 149-115, Wednesday night on ESPN. They’re now 32-36 on the season and 2-2 in the bubble, the same as Boston.
How bad was it? In the Boston Celtics vaunted history —17 NBA championships with so many all-time great players from Bill Russell and Bob Cousy to Larry Bird and Kevin McHale to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the 149 points was the franchise’s 10th highest single game total, ever.
The Nets were up one point late in the first quarter. Within a four-minute span, they found themselves down by 18 following a 20-1 from the Celtics. They missed eight consecutive shots and showed absolutely zero signs of defensive competence. Kemba Walker was out and Jayson Tatum played six minutes in the first half after picking up three fouls in the first quarter.
No matter. Boston extended the lead and dropped 38 points in the second quarter alone — 71 at half. The Nets went down by as many as 30 in the third quarter and then 32 in the fourth quarter. Jacque Vaughn even tried a loose 3-2/1-2-2 zone, but it only opened up the perimeter game for Boston.
The Celtics shot 57 percent from the field and nailed 20-of-39 from three, while also knocking down 29 free throws to Brooklyn’s 17. The Nets, meanwhile, shot 47 percent from the field and a horrid 8-of-32 from three, to go along with 17 turnovers.
Joe Harris was one of the few to show up, finishing the night with 14 points. Jeremiah Martin led the way with 20 points off the bench — his first game with double digits in the NBA. Martin finished 8-of-12 overall and 2-of-4 from deep. He also handed out four assists.
“We love what we see from Jeremiah. He’s a young guard, very athletic,” Caris LeVert said post-game. “He’s starting to learn how to play the NBA game, which is different from college or the G League, but it’s very encouraging to see how fast he’s picking things up and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for the future.”
LeVert dropped 51 against the Celtics in their last meeting on March 3, but Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown had his number all night — forcing him to shoot just 6-of-14 from the field with four turnovers. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot who went for 16 and 8 in the Nets big pre-hiatus win and was averaging 19.3 points in the “bubble” was held to four points on 1-of-5 shooting.
With so much garbage time, Martin wasn’t the only bench player who put up career numbers. Donta Hall had 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting (but only two rebounds). Dzanan Musa had 13, one short of his career high.
For the Celtics, seven players finished in double figures, led by Brown who had 21. Jayson Tatum had 19 while both Gordan Hayward and Robert Williams had 18 each.
Post-game, there was no sugar-coating the loss.
“We kind of got away from what led to a lot of our success the past two games,” said Harris. “We didn’t rebound the ball well, we didn’t defend well. A lot turnovers, not a lot of assists. We weren’t making that extra pass like we have been. And a lot of the 50-50 balls we didn’t get either. We just got outworked, and against a team that is just obviously more talented, you are going to end up losing the way that we did.”
“You know, obviously Boston is a really good team,” added LeVert. “They played really well tonight. We wish we would’ve had more competitive spirit at the start of the game, especially in spurts in the first half. I feel like they took advantage of it, and they played a great game tonight.”
The Nets will have a chance to redeem themselves and clinch a playoff spot —their fifth in eight years in Brooklyn — against the Sacramento Kings on Friday.
UPDATE ON JAMAL CRAWFORD
Jamal Crawford (strained hamstring) will miss at least ‘a few games’ — according to Nets interim head coach Jacque Vaughn.— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) August 5, 2020
FRIENDS OF KEVIN/APPRECIATION FOR NJ FANBASE
In talking with the guys on the RSPN podcast, Kevin Durant spoke about how impressed he was with Caris LeVert and, wait for it, Chris Chiozza. I mean, aren’t we all?
KD on Caris LeVert: “He’s definitely better than I thought... he’s different.”— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) August 5, 2020
Later says he was impressed by Chris Chiozza: “He belongs out there.” https://t.co/GaQ1Cr67Ko
And on Kyrie Irving, Durant spoke about of his outspokenness. KD said that Irving is often “misunderstood” because he speaks “the raw truth.”
“What does, like, misunderstood mean?,” Durant said. “The truth sometimes can hurt a lot of people. When you tell the raw truth, especially in this society, it’s frowned upon. Kyrie tells it how it is. There’s no sugarcoating.”
He also discussed the appeal of developing the Nets fanbase and why it’s an exciting time for him to play with younger players and bring fans to the Brooklyn market.
Hearing KD big up Nets fans from Jersey 2 BK and acknowledging Nets playoff runs of the past gave me chills ... I can’t wait to see you in that all black 2 @KDTrey5 !!!! #sn7per #Wegohard pic.twitter.com/1wjxL9JtGZ— Bkbrigade (@mgbushwick1) August 5, 2020
BROOKLYN BAMBOO PLANT
*Sound on*— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) August 6, 2020
Jacque Vaughn brings a bamboo plant everywhere the Nets go because it’s a “representation” of the Nets: In an unprecedented situation, team must be flexible, adaptable and resilient. pic.twitter.com/siJGbBA5R8
Sean Marks spoke to ESPN in the first half and said that he’s been happy about how “highly bonded” the Nets have been in Orlando. He also Kyrie Irving’s shoulder is “progressing well.” Irving underwent shoulder impingement surgery on March 3, just before the pandemic caused the NBA to shut down.
For a different perspective, head on over to Celtics Blog, our Celtics sister site on SB Nation.
Next up: Kings on Friday, 5:00 PM ET.
- Box Score: Boston Celtics 149, Brooklyn Nets 115 - NBA.com
- Game Report: Boston Celtics 149, Brooklyn Nets 115 (Video) - NBA.com
- Michael Grady and Frank Isola on Nets’ loss (Video) - YES Network
- Jacque Vaughn on Nets’ loss to Celtics (Video) - YES Network
- Joe Harris on disappointing game (Video) - YES Network
- Caris LeVert on 149-115 loss to Celtics (Video) - YES Network
- Wear Brooklyn At (Video) - YES Network
- Williams, Brown leads Celtics to 149-115 rout of Nets - AP
- Celtics crush Nets without Walker - Reuters
- Nets walloped by Celtics a day after huge upset of Bucks - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen can’t stop Nets’ debacle - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Blowout loss to Celtics keeps Nets from clinching a playoff berth - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets’ Donta Hall wants all the smoke - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Kevin Durant says the criticisms aren’t going to change Kyrie Irving - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Nets crash back to reality following ugly blowout loss to Celtics - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Nets’ Kevin Durant weighs in on whether Kyrie Irving is misunderstood - Ian Begley - SNY
- Nets’ Jamal Crawford (hamstring) out ‘a few games’ - Nick Friedell - ESPN
- Nets’ Kevin Durant picks Clippers to beat Bucks in NBA Finals - Royce Young - ESPN
- Nets’ lack of ‘competitive spirit’ vs. Celtics can’t carry over - Nick Friar - USA Today
- CELTICS 149, NETS 115: BROOKLYN FALLS TO BOSTON - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- GALLERY: NETS VS. CELTICS - Brooklyn Nets
- Celtics make room for youth in romp over Brooklyn - Mark Murphy - Boston Herald
- The Celtics tear up the Nets and get back on track, and other observations - Adam Himmelsbach - Boston Globe