Well, that was ugly. After a pretty OK Game 1 performance with all things considered, the Boston Celtics looked lifeless in Game 2 tonight against the Brooklyn Nets, leading to a lopsided final score of 130-108. This was pretty much a blowout from wire to wire, as Brooklyn quickly built up a double digit lead in the first quarter and never looked back. Three of the Nets starters scored 20+ points, while Marcus Smart was the Celtics lead scorer with 19, which is a pretty accurate depiction of how this game went.
This game was only competitive for the first four minutes. The Celtics were down one after Tristan Thompson hit a free throw, then watched Brooklyn go on an effortless 15-0 that basically ended the game before it really began. For all the options the Nets have, it was the sharpshooting Joe Harris who dropped 16 points in the quarter, and seemed incapable of missing any shot he took. The Celtics seemed capable of fighting back into the game, and even brought the deficit back to seven pretty quickly, but then allowed Brooklyn to balloon it back out to 14 by the end of the quarter.
If it wasn’t all Nets in the first quarter, it was the rest of the way out. The second quarter was the James Harden show, as he spent most of the quarter running the offense with the Nets second unit. He scored or assisted each of Brooklyn’s first 16 points in the quarter, and was completely in control of the game. Meanwhile the Celtics had no answer on offense, and barely managed to score 21 points on the quarter. They looked uninterested in scoring, and sought out mismatches rather than moving the ball around the floor. As a result, Boston was staring at a 24 point deficit by the time the game had reached halftime.
That set the stage for Brooklyn to coast to an easy victory in the second half, as Boston didn’t really make any sort of run to make the game interesting. Making matters even worse, Jayson Tatum was forced out of the game early in third quarter after getting poked in the eye. If there’s a silver lining to any of this, it allowed some of the younger guys to get minutes down the stretch with the game already being decided, but that’s really stretching it at this point.
The Celtics may be heavy underdogs in this series, but it shouldn’t be too much to ask them to show up and try to win. They looked lifeless as a team for basically the entire game, and allowed Brooklyn to do whatever they wanted on both sides of the floor. After looking like they would be able to hang with the Nets in Game 1, Boston looked like they were just ready for the season to end tonight, which is extremely disappointing.
Admittedly, the Nets are going to hit a lot of tough shots, and they certainly did tonight. It was unrealistic to expect them to come out cold again tonight, but they torched Boston all night long, and they got contributions up and down the lineup. Boston just had no answer for the Nets offensive attack, and continually made confusing switches or double teams that would end with guys being left wide open.
Brooklyn will score, but the Celtics need to get some sort of offensive rhythm going if they want to avoid getting blown out for the rest of the series. They never seem willing to move the ball around, and just spend most of their possessions hunting for mismatches that lead to isolation plays. It’s success rate isn’t that great, and typically just ends with zero points for the Celtics. Most of the Nets big runs came off of just grabbing a Celtics miss and then walking into an open shot on the other end. Once they moved the ball around, they found open looks, they just waited until it was too late to get any sort of offense in this one.
As much as Celtics fans want their team to succeed, the Brooklyn Nets are just a better team then the C’s. There’s a reason they are the favorites to win the title this season, and Boston is quickly figuring out why. With the series shifting back to Boston, it would honestly be quite surprising at this point to see the Celtics season live long enough to make it back to the Barclays Center. If they want any shot at winning, Tatum will need to be good to go, and he has until 8:30 on Friday night to heal up before Game 3 tips off.