clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Nets go for 3-0 series lead vs Celtics

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

2021 NBA Playoffs - Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Opened up a can of whoop ass and served it dry. The Brooklyn Nets hosted the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night and put on a performance for the ages as they cruised to a 22 point win in front of a joyous Barclays Center crowd. Two more to go.

The Boston Celtics will try to get themselves back in the series as this game is a must win. Read about G2 from their perspective here.

Where to follow the game

ABC, YES2, and the YES Network app for your viewing pleasure. WFAN FM on the radio. Primetime so we’re getting started at 8:30.


Jeff Green left Wednesday’s game early due to bruised left foot. He was diagnosed with a strained plantar fascia and will be out at least 10 days. No Spencer Dinwiddie.

Jayson Tatum left Wednesday’s game early after getting poked in the eye. He’ll be on the court for this one. No Jaylen Brown.

The game

We mentioned all the isolation Brooklyn ran in Game One, and they took care of that in game two. They handed out 31 assists to only 14 turnovers as they had the ball moving and the Celtics out of sorts. Brooklyn has weapons all over the court if you aren’t 100 percent on top of your game, the Nets will shoot the lights out. Shouts to you, Joe Harris.

The level of passing has been one of the big stories in the first two games, as Will Bjarnar explains here:

It doesn’t help that the rest of this Boston group is guilty of a similar crime. They’ve hurried into taking early shots far too often this series, almost as though they figure taking earlier (and deeper) shots will help them cut into the deficit they’ve built by way of those earlier, deeper shots clanging off the rim. You know when you’re running late, and you push on the gas with a bit more lenience, and the far more responsible person in your passenger seat chimes in, “We’re not going to get there any faster if we’re dead”? The Celtics, in this series, are the driver in that analogy. Except they won’t slow down. They’re inching closer and closer to the 18-wheeler directly in front of them, tuning out their passenger, tempting death.

Beating a team as daunting as these Nets requires the patience they employ. But instead of taking their time to find the best shot, the Celtics have gone haywire, hellbent on getting the ball in the air as fast as possible and praying it goes in. Instead of taking 12-15 seconds of the 24-second shot clock to survey the court, move the ball inside and out, and potentially create natural openings for players down low or allowing defensive swarms to converge before the ball handler kicks it out to an open Evan Fournier or Nesmith, the Celtics hurry up the floor and launch it the first chance they get. It’s about as productive as inhaling your first plate of food at a buffet, not considering the fact that it cost $40, and you might want to pace yourself in order to fit in a few more servings.

Without Green, what will the Nets rotation look like? Do they shrink it down to eight players and work that way, or is there an opportunity for someone like Alize Johnson to get a chance to make a name for himself in this setting? Either way, Steve Nash will have to figure out how to replace the loss of one of the team’s more important players.

So without their third big, Nicolas Claxton will have more time to be on the court. Clax has been a revelation all season long and he’s managed to outplay (the injured) Robert Williams thus far. Time Lord has been hampered by his toe injury and the Nets managed to solve the challenge he posed to them after game one. Brooklyn’s big rotation

With Tatum less than 100 percent, this series becomes even more difficult for Brad Stevens and friends. He spoke to the press yesterday and said something curious:

Aside from the discussion on whether he’s a superstar (spoiler alert: he isn’t), he’s been having a rough series so far. In the two games, he’s averaging only 15.5 points a game on a disappointing .281/.246/.846 shooting split. He’s due for a big game, and Kevin Durant noted the work the team has done in slowing him down so far.

“He can go off and score in bunches, but I think we’re doing a good job of forcing him off the three-point line a little bit more and contesting his shots. But he’s Jayson Tatum. He’s gonna make shots. I feel like some of the shots he took tonight, he easily could make ‘em, and he’s a tough shot maker.

So we’re not gonna sit here and act like we’re just bottling Jayson Tatum up. We know he can get it going at any point, but I’m glad we were able to get a contest on most of his shots.”

Players always have a natural bounce when they get back home, so look for Tatum to come out firing. He’ll have his hands full dealing with KD. Durant is fully past his slow first half in Game one and now that his shot is here, look out. He and Evan Fournier got into it in game two, but that’s playoff basketball and guys chirping back and forth is all in the game.

The Nets went hunting for Fournier on switches all night long, and they’ll do it again tonight. Does Boston minimize the amount of switching they do this time around? We’ll see.

Player to watch: Kyrie Irving

Kemba Walker hasn’t put his stamp on this series and time is starting to run out. Walker had a decent game on Tuesday night, but with the game being out of reach, it didn’t matter that much as the Nets were too much on the other end.

Behold, the greatest sentence of all time...

A motto, a mission statement, something to live by.

Aside from the natural intensity of a playoff game against a former player returning to town, the news of a 76ers fan throwing popcorn at Russell Westbrook a Knick fan spitting at Trae Young and Jazz fans screaming racial epithets at Ja Morant’s parents (!) has all of our antennas up.

Asked to respond to Irving’s statement, Celtic GM Danny Ainge responded by saying he was unaware of any such issue.

“I think that we take those kind of things seriously. I never heard any of that, from any player that I’ve ever played with in my 26 years in Boston,” Ainge said, according to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports. “I never heard that before from Kyrie, and I talked to him quite a bit. So, I don’t know. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter. We’re just playing basketball. Players can say what they want.”

Not long after, Marcus Smart contradicted his boss, reiterating what he’s said in the past about racist taunts at TD Garden.

“I’ve heard a couple of them,” Smart said, according to Jay King of The Athletic. ”It’s kind of sad and sickening because even though it’s an opposing team, we have guys on your home team that you’re saying these racial slurs and you’re expecting us to go out there and play for you.”

Hopefully the game is fun and everyone is on their best behavior. TD Garden will be at 25 percent capacity for Game 3, then near-full capacity on Sunday.

While Irving is on the court, he’ll continue being trouble for the C’s. He’s been fantastic two games in and is one part of an unsolvable puzzle for the Celtics. He only played 27:54 on Tuesday and with games being every other day the rest of this series, keeping his minutes low did him some good. It’s bound to be an emotional, intense night so the Nets hope Irving isn’t too jacked up for this one. Just gotta do what you do and the vibes will follow.

From the Vault

It's a Game three in Boston, which means... well, you know

More reading: Celtics Blog