Game 1 had the Boston Celtics stepping up in the clutch to take down the Brooklyn Nets. Game 2 was all about overcoming adversity.
The C’s stumbled out the gate and trailed by as many as 17 points on Wednesday night. They erased a 10-point halftime deficit and finally pulled ahead during a dominant fourth quarter in which they outscored Brooklyn by 12. The full house at TD Garden was treated to a thrilling 114-107 comeback victory that put Boston ahead 2-0 in the first-round series.
Seven Celtics scored in double figures as Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum led the way with 22 and 19 points, respectively. Tatum added a game-high 10 assists, and Grant Williams was a major contributor with 17 points off the bench.
Kevin Durant paced the Nets with 27 points, but it was far from an efficient night for the future Hall of Famer. Bruce Brown added 23 in the losing effort for Brooklyn.
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Here are our takeaways from the Celtics’ gutsy win as the series heads to Brooklyn for Game 3 on Saturday night.
Jaylen Brown leads the fourth-quarter rally
The Celtics’ resiliency was on display as they refused to go down without a fight in Wednesday’s showdown. They chipped away at Brooklyn’s 17-point lead and trimmed it to five heading into the fourth quarter. At that point, they had Brooklyn right where they wanted them.
After a slow start, Jaylen Brown bounced back to score 10 of her team-high 22 points in the fourth. The effort helped Boston begin the frame with a 16-4 run, and the Nets never had an answer.
Brown wasn’t the only star in the final quarter. Payton Pritchard drilled one of the biggest shots of the night, a go-ahead 3-pointer with just under eight minutes remaining. He finished with 10 points off the bench (eight in the fourth quarter) while shooting 5-of-7 from the floor and pulling down four rebounds.
Jayson Tatum wasn’t at his best for most of the night, but he stepped up when it mattered most. He tallied seven of his 19 points in the fourth, including two late shots to keep the Nets from creeping back into it.
Celtics bigs save the day
Brown and Tatum led in the scoring column and had their moments in the fourth quarter, but Boston doesn’t win this game without the big man trio of Al Horford, Daniel Theis, and Grant Williams.
While Brown and Tatum struggled mightily in the first half, the C’s bigs kept the game within reach. Horford followed up his stellar Game 1 with an impressive Game 2. The 35-year-old finished with 16 points, six rebounds, two steals and a block. He was the only C’s starter without a turnover.
Daniel Theis had a nice offensive performance of his own with 15 points (7-9 FG). The German big man added six boards and a steal.
Grant Williams helped shift the momentum in Boston’s favor with eight straight points and a block to finish the fourth quarter. He scored 11 straight Celtics points and finished with 17 off the bench (3-3 3-PT) to go with six rebounds.
Horford, Theis, and Williams shot a combined 17-23 for 48 points.
Another off night for Kevin Durant
“Will the real KD please stand up?”
That’s the mood in Brooklyn right now as the Celtics’ defense once again made Kevin Durant look like a shell of himself. The Nets superstar had a game-high 27 points, but that number is misleading. Eighteen of those points came from the free-throw line. Durant was a putrid 4-for-17 from the field with six turnovers.
But wait, it gets worse.
When Brooklyn needed Durant most, he was nowhere to be found. He was 0-for-10 with four turnovers in the second half. In Games 1 and 2 combined, KD is 13-41 (31.7%) from the floor with 12 turnovers.
Nets coach Steve Nash spoke on his star’s struggles after the loss.
“I think (the Celtics) are being physical,” Nash said. “He’s been uncomfortable. He hasn’t looked like he’s been able to get his rhythm.”
Durant wasn’t the only Nets star to have a rough night. After dropping 39 points in front of the TD Garden crowd in Game 1, Kyrie Irving had only 10 points and shot 4-for-13 from the floor in Game 2.
Note: Games 3-6 of the Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics series will be aired on NBC Sports Boston and can also be streamed on NBCSportsBoston.com or with the MyTeams App, which you can download below.