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Celtics humble Nets on national television, 149-115

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Brooklyn Nets v Boston Celtics Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images

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.

Game over.

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.

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UPDATE ON JAMAL CRAWFORD

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?

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.

BROOKLYN BAMBOO PLANT

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.

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Next up: Kings on Friday, 5:00 PM ET.