The Boston Celtics couldn’t keep pace with the high scoring Brooklyn Nets offense in Game 4, and saw their season pushed to the brink with a 141-126 loss tonight. Boston did their best to keep up with Brooklyn, but their high-powered trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden combined for 104 points, which proved to be too much for Boston. Jayson Tatum did his best to keep the C’s alive in this one with 40 more points tonight, but didn’t have anyone else really step up and help take the scoring burden off of his shoulders.
The first quarter started out about as well as Boston could have hoped, as they took a 34-33 lead at the end of 12 minutes. Despite not shooting particularly well, the C’s were able to keep getting to the free throw line, and were using that as their main source of points. Unfortunately, Brooklyn was getting to the line even more than Boston, which prevented them from truly extending their lead. When they weren’t getting to the line, the Celtics were moving the ball around and hitting their shots, with Tatum again leading the way. Tatum scored all 14 of his first half points in this quarter, which foreshadowed this teams second quarter struggles.
The Celtics started off the second quarter with only one of their starters on the floor (Evan Fournier), and the Nets quickly took advantage. Tatum quickly checked back in, but the Nets had already taken back the lead, and rolled through the left of the quarter. They would outscore Boston 40-26 in the quarter, with Tatum scoring 0 of those. The Nets began doubling and trapping Tatum more frequently this quarter, and he just couldn’t get anything going offensively. Boston’s ability to get to the line saved this from being a total blowout, as the Nets went into halftime leading 73-60.
The Nets continued rolling in the second half as this game, and ultimately turned this one into a blowout. The Nets big three got hot and just refused to miss any shot they took, no matter how contested it was. The Celtics did a good job scoring throughout the second half for the most part, but had no answers for the Nets prolific scoring on the other end. Brooklyn would build up a 20 point lead about halfway through the third quarter, and Boston could just never make any sort of progress on the defensive end to allow them to make a run back into the game.
Well if you got your hopes up the Celtics could make their way back into this series, the Nets quickly squashed those hopes in this contest. Boston just had no answer for Brooklyn’s prolific scoring in the second half, and once they locked up Tatum, this game was as good as over. Boston didn’t even play awful defense, it was really just Brooklyn hitting an absurd amount of shots. Brooklyn shot 58 percent from the field, and an absurd 59 percent from behind the arc as a team. It’s tough to win when the opposing team shoots that well, but you come away from this game wondering what more the C’s could have done defensively to stop these guys from hitting shots.
There’s no doubt Brooklyn has more talent than the Celtics, and that was never more evident then the second quarter. Whereas Brooklyn has three guys that can basically score at will, Boston only has one in Tatum. And when the Nets began throwing more and more bodies at Tatum, there was no one else to step up and score with Tatum basically incapacitated. Yes Jaylen Brown is missing in this series, but it’s felt like this team has just been missing depth the entire season. Marcus Smart and Evan Fournier were expected to be the guys to step up tonight, but both only managed to score 16 points each on some pretty ugly shooting lines.
Whereas we have seen other teams like the Nets reload their teams to try to widen their championship window, we have seen the Celtics stay put from one season to the next, and that is currently what separates this team from the top teams in the league. Tatum and Brown are both young, but you can’t afford to keep wasting seasons of their time in the green and white, especially with how players in the NBA continue to gain more and more control of their destinies with each passing season. As the Boston Celtics 2021 season seems to be coming to it’s conclusion on Tuesday night in Game 5, the front office needs to begin planning on how to transform this team into a surefire title contender come next season.