The Brooklyn Nets are the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and were at or near the top of the East for the entire regular season. The Boston Celtics, the No. 7, were inconsistent over the 72-game regular season and their road to the postseason included having to defeat the Washington Wizards 118-110 in a Play-In Tournament game to earn a spot.
After two games in the Nets-Celtics’ best-of-seven opening round series, the gap between the teams is clear. The Nets took a 2-0 lead by defeating the Celtics 130-108 in Game 2 at the Barclays Center on Tuesday night. They took Game 1 on Saturday in Brooklyn by 104-93.
The so-called Big Three of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden didn’t have to put up high scoring numbers in Game 2. Durant had 26, Irving 15 and Harden 20. Forward Joe Harris was the second leading scorer with 25.
“We have three of the best offensive players that really have ever played,” said Harris of his future Hall of Fame teammates. The trio has only played 10 games together the entire season but it hasn’t been an issue thus far as they improve their chemistry.
“Whenever the ball moves, we’re very difficult to defend,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash after the win on Tuesday. “We can score in isolation, but the more the ball moves, we knock the first domino down and the other team’s chasing, we’re excellent in those situations. So we want to try to make that more of a habit for us.”
Harden sees the Nets as a collective of capable players who can step up when needed. “Different games it’s going to be different guys,” he said. “Tonight it was Joe, next game, Game 3, it could be somebody else. So we’re just all locked in, we’re all on the same page and whatever it takes to win, we’re willing to do.”
The Celtics’ gifted young forward Jayson Tatum has been held in check through the first two games of the series. After scoring 50 versus the Wizards in the play-in game, Tatum has been held to 22 and 9 in Games 1 and 2. At only 23, Tatum is a two-time All-Star and was All NBA Third Team last season.
The Celtics are badly missing forward Jaylen Brown, one of the league’s rising young stars who is out for the season after having wrist surgery earlier this month. They’ll have to play near perfect basketball and hope the Nets forget they are the most dangerous offensive team in basketball, in other words, a miracle, to win four of the next five games.
Games 4 and 5 will be played tomorrow, May 28 and Sunday, May 30 in Boston. Game 5 if necessary will be back at Barclays next Tuesday.