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Nets look to go up 2-0 vs. Celtics

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Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets - Game One Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

We’re on the board. Before a RAUCOUS crowd at Barclays Center on Saturday night, the Brooklyn Nets opened their playoff adventure with a somewhat convincing win against the Boston Celtics to open this series. Although the Nets got the W, they’ve got some things to clean up.

For the C’s, they’ll look to get it in gear so they can tie up the series. Read about game one from the Boston perspective here.

Where to follow the game

TNT and WPIX on TV. WFAN FM on radio. Party’s getting started after 7:30 p.m.

Join us on Clubhouse after the game for a live discussion:

https://www.clubhouse.com/event/PYbWKyz3

Injuries

Only Spencer Dinwiddie is out for the Nets.

Only Jaylen Brown is out for the Celtics.

The game

I was at Barclays Saturday night, and it was an absolutely electric atmosphere. The crowd was into it, everyone was loud, and the players were hype. The Nets had a few chances to blow the roof off the joint, but couldn’t deliver the ultimate crowd pleaser. They’ll have their chances tonight to set it off.

Here’s to you, Robert Williams. The Time Lord had the game of his life as he had 11 points, nine rebounds, and nine blocks on Saturday night. He was able to thwart the Nets attacks at the basket, so Steve Nash and friends will devise a strategy to get some easier looks at the rim tonight. The Nets ran a ton of isolations in game one, so some more movement might be in the cards tonight.

The big concern about the Nets was their defense, and they exceeded expectations on Saturday. Jeff Green spoke about the work done against Jayson Tatum and said:

“We forced him to take some tough shots. He got very comfortable in the first half and that’s what allowed him to get going. In the second half, we were a little bit more aggressive on the ball. That’s what forced him to take some shots that were tough for him. We got to stay on the pressure of making him put the ball on the floor and take contested shots.”

Tatum was able to feast on switches where he got to dance with Blake Griffin. Brooklyn made the adjustment by limiting BG’s minutes in the second half and relying on the duo of Green and Nicolas Claxton to man the middle. Tatum didn’t make a field goal but did get seven points at the line in the second half. Tatum has to score 30+, coordinate the offense, defend an elite scorer, AND It doesn’t help that he had to deal with Kevin Durant, too.

Speaking of KD, it took him a while to find his groove in his Brooklyn playoff debut, but once he got it going, he was on fire. He scored a game high 32 points and went 5-10 from the field after the halftime intermission. When you have a player like Durant, you give him as much time and room as he needs to get his rhythm.

Speaking of rhythm, James Harden didn’t have it on Saturday, but there were plenty of flashes. He had eight assists in his 36 minutes and did a good job of seeking out Tristan Thompson when Boston switched pick and rolls.

Can you count on the Nets going 8-of-34 from three again? If the Nets are even close to their usual form from deep, it’s gonna be another party at Barclays.

Player to watch: Kemba Walker

Boston needs a second scorer, and Walker just was not up to par on Saturday. He went 5-16 from the field and really the only time he got into a groove was late when the Nets pretty much had it wrapped up. I asked Greg Brueck-Cassoli of Celtics Blog about Kemba prior to the series, and here’s what he told me:

Their offense is lightyears better when he’s playing well. If opponents play a drop scheme in the pick-and-roll he can be a killer pulling up as the ball handler. Opt for a switch-heavy strategy, and when he’s right Walker is a nightmare to stay in front of. Size can confound him at times, particularly by the basket. If the Nets roll with Blake Griffin at center, then there may be hope for him to attack the rack more effectively than usual. Anyone longer and more mobile could spell trouble.

Boston’s gonna need Walker to revert back to form if they want to win.

Kyrie Irving will look to keep on keeping on. The Jersey kid had an efficient 29 points on 11-20 from the field. Irving was able to get to his spots without much difficulty and with the amount of times Brooklyn ran isolations, having a player that can get his own shot anywhere like Irving can takes on even more importance. You play fast, the Nets light you up. Slow it down, the Nets give it to Irving and let him feast against your defender. Tough riddle to solve.

Also, this happened.

Don’t reach.

From the Vault

An excellent guard leading his team to a Game one victory in front of a raucous Nets crowd? It’s feeling like the old days

More reading: Celtics Blog