The Boston Celtics struggled mightily in the second half of Game 1 of their first round series against the Brooklyn Nets, which would eventually lead to their 104-93 loss. The C’s only managed to put up 40 points in the second half on Brooklyn, and basically gifted them the win after controlling the first half. The trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden combined for 82 points to carry the Nets to the win, while Jayson Tatum led the way for Boston with 22 of his own.
For as much as Boston was expected to get blown out of the water against the Nets, they not only hung around in the first half, but ended up going into the break with a six point lead. The Nets came out cold and never really found their shot in the first half, and the Celtics capitalized for the most part and held a lead for most of the frame. The defensive effort was very good in keeping the Nets off balance, but in reality these guys were just missing some of their shots. Jayson Tatum led the way with 15 points, and the Celtics held a 53-47 lead at halftime.
Things went sour pretty quickly in the second half, as the Nets quickly took the lead back less than two minutes into the third quarter. Each of Durant, Irving, and Harden took their turns taking control of the offense, and started hitting some of the shots they were missing in the first half. On the other end nobody on Boston could find the bottom of the bucket. The script completely flipped from one half to the other, and the Nets seemed set to take off. Yet Boston kept the deficit manageable, and went into the fourth trailing by five.
Where we’ve seen Boston make some large comebacks this season, they couldn’t overcome the small deficit from Brooklyn. They brought the score to within three on a couple of occasions, only to watch Brooklyn go on a 9-0 run midway through the frame to essentially put the game to rest. Again it was the C’s failing to get any sort of momentum offensively, which allowed Brooklyn to maintain leads before scoring in bunches to break away. It was tough to watch Boston let this one slip away, after they was expected by everyone to not be any source of competition for Brooklyn.
This loss was a tough one, as Boston was really competitive in the first half before completely faltering offensively in the second. It was a weird dynamic where their defensive play carried them, and their offense let them down, which has been the exact opposite of how most of the season has gone. They did a really good job of containing Brooklyn’s big three in the first half, and their role players were virtually nonexistent on the offensive end. Part of that was due to Rob Williams being an absolute monster in the paint, as he finished the game with an absurd total of nine blocks. With the paint locked down for the most, the rest of the team could focus on covering the three point area and the midrange, which helped slow down Brooklyn’s offense. This is a formula that should help the defense keep up their high level of play throughout the series, and give the Celtics a fighting shot in these games.
The offensive struggles tonight stemmed from really a lack of hitting shots. Whereas Boston has spent much of the season chucking up threes whenever they pleased, they largely avoided the three ball tonight, especially considering they only managed to hit their first three of the second half with less than two minutes left. There were some ugly shooting lines from Tatum, Kemba Walker, and Evan Fournier, that really killed this team’s chances of winning. Marcus Smart was easily the second best option on offense tonight, as nobody else besides himself or Tatum were finding ways to score. Tatum did a lot of his work by getting to the free throw line, but otherwise there wasn’t much offense to be found. If the Celtics want any shot of winning during this series they are going to need to figure out how to score on Brooklyn’s defense. They have a couple of days to prepare, as tip off for Game 2 is Tuesday at 7:30 P.M.