Nobody in Brooklyn thought that their season would go this way. After being billed the title favorites in the preseason with their superstar trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, the Nets started off strong.
They started the season strong with a 16-6 record, but then things started to go wrong with Kyrie Irving’s home game ban, COVID-19 outbreaks and other issues. Still, they had a 24-12 record on January 6. The Celtics, at that time, were 18-21.
It’s been one hell of a reversal fortune since then, as the Boston Celtics became the first team to be three games under .500 and then finish 20 games above .500. The Nets, on the other hand, finished with a 44-38 record as they weathered a huge midseason trade that sent Harden to Philadelphia along with extended injuries to key players.
Simmons still hasn’t played in a Nets uniform, and he might suit up for Game 4, but that might be a case of too little, too late. Brooklyn are now on the ropes, and things look bleak considering the Celtics also got Robert Williams back into their lineup in Game 3.
Irving and Durant did not produce well in what was essentially a must-win game in front of their home fans. Durant was hounded all day by the Celtics’ defense and finished with 16 points, eight rebound and eight assists. He only managed to take 11 shots because of how he was hounded, and unlike Game 2, where he shots 18 of 20 free throws, he only got two shots at the charity stripe this time around.
Irving, on the other hand, finished with 16 points and nine assists while shooting 6 of 17. Since scoring 39 points in the heartbreaking last-gasp loss in Game 1, Irving has scored a total of 26. He’s spent more time dribbling than making buckets.
The Nets’ most consistent performer for this series has actually been Bruce Brown, which kind of says it all about how their postseason is going. He finished with 26 points and eight points while shooting 10 of 19 from the field in Game 3, following up 23 points and eight rebounds in Game 2.
The Celtics, on the other hand, have been getting the kind of production from their stars that the Nets wish they could. Jayson Tatum had a rough start to his shooting, but he made shots when they mattered most as he finished with a game-best 39 points, five rebounds, six points, and six steals.
His co-star Jaylen Brown, finished with 23 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals. Brown shot 9 of 16 from the field and took advantage of his whole bag of tricks to help the Celtics win.
The Celtics certainly aren’t strangers to struggles, especially since their tough start to the season, and there were even rumors at the end of 2021 that the Boston may look to break up their star duo, who were apparently not getting along. They’ve sure showed the media that they’re just fine, though, and their play on the court shows it.
The Nets are now in the unenviable position of trying to attempt what has so far been impossible. Teams that have been down 0-3 in a seven-game series in the NBA game are 0-143 all-time. Looking at the way the Celtics are playing, though, I don’t think even Ben Simmons coming back can help Brooklyn save this series.