The Celtics cancel the Nets in the 4th period after being down by 17. Bad Durant with 4/17 shooting and Irving (10 points with 4/13). The series now moves to Barclays Center: Saturday Game-3
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Ime Udoka looks her Celtics in the eye during Game 2 interval with Brooklyn. “We are not playing our best basketball, yet we are only 10 points down: we can improve.” Those words are like a magic formula: Boston improves in the second half, so much that it cancels Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and transforms the Nets’ redemption attempt into 114-107 which is worth 2-0 in the series. This time no show like in game-1, but a game of chess with the superstars limited by the defenses.
The Celtics may not have the strongest player in the series, but they have the best team and they have proven it. The abyss for Brooklyn materialize in a horrible fourth period, with 5/19 shooting and the superstars canceled. Coach Nash argues that there are other ways to win than just relying on phenomena, but his Nets haven’t found it yet. And time is starting to run short: race-3, not to be missed, is Saturday at the Barclays Center.
Boston is doing a defensive masterpiece on Durant, who missed all 10 attempts in the second half. “You have to be physical about him – explains Udoka -: we want to try to put him in difficulty when he is on defense and surround him when he has the ball, trying to give him difficult shots. We want to tire him out.” The Celtics are doing it so well that in addition to KD they have also turned off Irving, who went from irresistible 39-point phenomenon in Game-1 to pop-up in Game-2. The Boston defense kept the opposing stars at an overall 8/30 from the field: if the Nash phenomena failed to find an alternative way to bite, those of the Celtics, put in difficulty by the opposing defense, understood that they had to find other ways to help the team. Jayson Tatum, 19 points with 5/16 shooting, produced 10 assists and directed the attack of the Celtics, who finish with 7 players in double figures with enormous contributions from Daniel Theis (15 points and 6 rebounds) and Al Horford among the holders (16 points and 6 rebounds), Grant Williams (17 points) and Payton Pritchard among the reserves. Jaylen Brown, like Tatum in the grip of the Nets for three quarters, put 10 of his 22 points in the fourth period by launching the decisive escape.
Brooklyn was also 17 points ahead in a dominated first half and still had 7 points to manage with 10 minutes to go. Except that it went out, disappearing from the field like its two stars. “We dropped in intensity in the 2nd half and this made the difference – explains coach Nash -. We made a lot of mistakes in attack, lost too many balls and awarded them too many points.” Game-2 also confirms that the Boston defense has found the recipe to limit Durant, in difficulty against such a physical pressure and limited to 4/17 shooting: 18 of his 27 points came from the line. Irving, unstoppable in race-1, practically did not show up: he finished with 10 points and 4/13 shooting, in the fourth period instead of the fulcrum of the game he became the last option. The performance of the two stars is the thing that Nash must correct if Brooklyn is to become the second team in history to recover a 2-0 in Boston: unlike the Celtics, the Nets are not built to survive a disaster of their phenomena. In the first half both Bruce Brown (18 of his 23 points) and Goran Dragic (16 of his 18) had worked well, but in the second half Boston canceled them too.
Brooklyn dominates in the first half with the defense and attack that shoots with 60% despite Boston keeping a good guard on Durant and Irving, and touches the 62-45 with 1’46 “from the rest. The Celtics recover immediately after the interval and in the first half they change gear especially in attack, while the defense tightens even more around Durant with Irving who progressively disappears from the field. Theis equalized at 79 with 3’13 ”from the siren, but Brooklyn managed to close the fourth ahead 90-85, further extending with the first basket of the fourth period. It is at that point, under 92-85, that Boston definitively changes gears: Tatum, surrounded by the Nets, inspires his teammates, Brown and the longs do very badly to the defense of Brooklyn like Pritchard, who with 7’48 “from the end signs the first advantage Celtics at 94-92. The hosts no longer look back, reaching 108-96 with a triple from Tatum with 2’07 ”from the end, the icing on the cake of a 23-4 run. The masterpiece is complete.
Boston: Brown 22 (7/12 from two, 2/6 from three, 2/3 free throws), Tatum 19, Williams 17. Rebounds: Theis 6, Horford 6, Tatum 6, Williams 6. Assists: Tatum 10.
Brooklyn: Durant 27 (3/15, 1/2, 18/20 tl), Brown 23, Dragic 18. Rebounds: Irving 8, Brown 8. Assists: Durant 5.
April 21, 2022 (change April 21, 2022 | 08:48)
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