BOSTON — Wednesday night had no middle fingers (that we know of), no notable injuries, and not many flashy plays. Instead, game 2 between the Celtics and Nets were full of hard playing, high level intensity which resulted with a Celtics win 114-107.
The game may have been on 4/20, which was fitting because the Nets wanted all the smoke. Brooklyn jumped out to a early double digit lead in the first quarter thanks to the likes of Boston’s own Bruce Brown who finished with 23 points. From there, it appeared that Brooklyn tried their best to hold on to that lead. But the Celtics intensity only ramped up.
The biggest eye catcher was the fouls from both sides. A lot of contact off and on the ball, contesting on every shot, boxing out on every play and more. The two teams combined for 55 fouls total. In the second half, that’s where the refs started blowing their whistles more often.
At the end of the first half the Celtics were down 65-55. However, the rally at the end of the second quarter cutting the deficit from 17 to 10 was the big difference maker.
Durant finished with 27 points. He didn’t hit a single shot from the field in the second half which is a rare occasion. KD went 0 for 10 in the tail end. He was getting bumped off his spot on offense, seeing double teams, active hands, and a bunch of physicality. But to Durant, he’s used to playoff basketball.
“They’re just playing two or three guys on me sometime… that’s just the nature of the beast in the playoffs” said Kevin Durant. “I got to be more patient. But play more fast sometime. Set some more screens.”
As for Kyrie Irving, he only dropped 10 points. It’s pretty obvious Ramadan affected his play. Towards the end of the first half, he went to the locker room to eat a snack. His energy appeared off tonight compared to his 39 point performance in game 1. He was still booed by Boston fans throughout the night.
As for the Celtics, offensively, there isn’t much to talk about for the first three quarters. They turned the ball over a lot, missed open shots, and didn’t play their best. Nobody scored over 25 points. However, it was the fourth quarter where things started to look up for the Celtics.
It’s easy to talk about Jayson Tatum that dropped 19 points or Jaylen Brown with 22 points. The two came alive in the fourth with them finally hitting shots behind the arch. But it’s the bench of the Celtics that played the x-factor.
Payton Pritchard came off the bench and dropped 10 points. Most of that coming in the second half. Pritchard made big shots that amplified the energy in the TD Garden. His shots would spark a lethal Boston run. Grant Williams hit big three’s that kept the C’s within reach the entire game. Williams finished with 17.
“They took the lead and they never looked back in that fourth quarter,” said Irving. “We don’t really have time to be disappointed, to hold out heads, this is playoff basketball.”
Steve Nash also agreed later in his post game press conference that the Nets energy began to shift once the lead was taken.
“I think our intensity dropped a little bit in the second half. We also didn’t convert. We had opportunities, we didn’t convert.”
The Celtics will now head to Brooklyn for game 3, and try to get another game closer to closing out this series.