‘Kyrie sucks’ was chanted as soon as Kyrie Irving touched the ball in the opening minute of the game. The boos were loud and furious every single time he had possession. Much to the Boston crowd’s delight, he never really got it going on offense.
Still, the Nets raced off to a 9-0 lead that forced an early timeout from Boston. They pushed the lead to double digits early as they finished the first quarter before finishing ahead 33-24.
Bruce Brown was huge for the Nets in the first quarter, scoring 12 points in the game’s first six minutes. He also played some pretty good defense.
Kevin Durant was also more aggressive and looked like he was on a mission to atone for Game 1. He took every opportunity to talk shit to the Boston bench, as he finished with 10 points on 4 shots in the opening period. However, he struggled from that point as the Celtics keyed in on him.
Celtics kept fighting back to keep it within a reasonable margin, and Grant Williams played a big role off the bench with 13 first half points. That helped a lot considering Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for just 14 points at halftime. Daniel Theis also contributed to the offense in the first half while old man Al Horford had 10 points at the break.
Speaking of benches, Goran Dragic showed how much depth he adds to the Nets squad with a big 16 points in the first half. He helped the Nets finish with a 65-55 halftime advantage.
The Celtics aren’t a team that quits easily, and they showed that in the second half as they quickly cut the Nets’ lead to 72-70 with 7:38 left in the period. It was tightly contested for the rest of the third quarter, and it was tied at 79-79 with 3:13 remaining in the third quarter after the Celtics had been down as much as 17.
The Nets were up 90-85 at the start of the fourth quarter, but the Celtics finally took their first lead of the game in the fourth quarter thanks to a Payton Pritchard step back jumper, which set the building ablaze.
Jaylen Brown got it going in the fourth quarter and scored 10 points in the 12-2 run that flipped a 92-87 Brooklyn advantage to a 99-94 Celtics lead. He finished with 22 points, four rebounds, six assists and three steals. His co-star Tatum struggled from the field but had a strong overall impact on the game with his playmaking as he finished with 19 points, six rebounds and 10 assists. Tatum also made big shots down the stretch, reminding all of us that it doesn’t matter if someone struggles as long as they make the shots when it matters most.
The Nets got taught a lesson about tenacity in Game 2. Durant and Irving combined to shoot 8 of 30 (26.6%) from the field, and the only reason Durant broke the 20-point barrier was because he shot 20 free throws. That wasted strong efforts from role-players and allowed the Celtics to regain their confidence, which led to the 29-17 fourth quarter scoreline in Boston’s favor.
Steve Nash will have a lot of adjustments to make for Game 3, as his squad will be returning home shellshocked after first losing to a buzzer-beater and then having a huge meltdown in the fourth quarter in Game 2. Ime Udoka, on the other hand, will be happy with the spirit that his players have shown at home.
The Celtics might make Marcus Smart wear his DPOY robe to games for the rest of this series. They won this game through hellacious defense that then ignited their offense in the 114-107 victory.