The Boston Celtics battled back from a 17-point deficit for a Game 2 win over the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA Playoffs. This game was far from pretty but Boston was able to grind their way to the victory.
In the first half, the Celtics looked lost on both ends of the floor. It was very reminiscent of their early-season struggles. Bruce Brown kicked the game off with a 9-0 run by himself to give the Nets the early lead that they would maintain for the entire half.
The four stars in this matchup, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving all failed to make a big impact on the first half but the role players picked up the slack. After the early 9-0 spurt from Brown, the game was relatively even scoring for the rest of the half. The Nets built their lead up to 17, but the Celtics went on a run to end the half to make the score 65-55 at halftime. All things considered, Boston was fortunate to only be down 10 at the half.
The Celtics came out of the break riding the momentum they built for themselves to end the first half. They quickly cut into the Brooklyn lead and from that point on it was clear this game was going to come down to the wire. Boston played intense defense on Durant and bottled him up all night long. They succeeded in making him uncomfortable and it led to many sloppy turnovers from the two-time champ. Even with his struggles, the Nets were able to take a five-point lead into the fourth quarter thanks to thanks to their 10 made free throws in the quarter and some timely buckets from Brown and Patty Mills.
The C’s fourth-quarter performance was a complete turnaround from Game 1. They controlled every aspect of the game at this point and Brooklyn could not handle the pressure. Brown spearheaded the Boston offense as they stormed back to take their first lead of the game at the 7:49 mark of the fourth. Their lead only grew from there and a Tatum dagger three-pointer with the shot clock expiring put the C’s up 12 and iced the game.
The Celtics put together a balanced offensive performance and hit big shots in the second half, but the real spotlight needs to be on their defense. They were absolutely dialed in on that side of the ball with their aggression. This aggressive play did lead to 34 free throws for Brooklyn but it definitely slowed the game down in their favor.
They held Durant to just 4-for-17 shooting and six turnovers. He finished 0-for-10 from the field in the second half. Kyrie Irving was clamped up as well, scoring only 10 points after exploding for 39 in Game 1. The Celtics defensive scheme is clearly designed to make life as difficult as possible for the Nets stars and to test the role players to make plays. Although Brooklyn’s role players were great tonight, they couldn’t overcome two dud performances from their main stars.
It wasn’t the prettiest win for Boston, but a win nonetheless that showed their resilience in tough situations. The series will now head to Brooklyn and the pivotal Game 3 will be played on Saturday at 7:30 pm ET.
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