In a COVID-19 vaccination commercial featuring Bruce Brown, the versatile Brooklyn Nets guard says “my game is not pretty,” a description of his hard nosed play. “I dive for loose balls. I played the 5-man [center] last year when the team needed me to.
I’ll literally do anything that the team needs me to do out there on the floor.” And Brown has, providing grittiness on defense and clutch baskets. Leading into the Nets’ 115-108 Tuesday night Play-In Tournament victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brown’s contributions were needed for the Nets to lock in the No. 7 seed.
The 25-year-old guard who played his college ball at the University of Miami had 18 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals in 40 minutes to augment Kyrie Irving’s team-high 34 points and Kevin Durant’s 25. On Friday, he scored 18 points with 10 rebounds in 40 minutes in a 118-107 home victory to keep the Nets in contention for the 7-seed they would secure. Brown followed up with 21 points and 7 rebounds against the Pacers on Sunday.
“We all love how Bruce has been playing lately,” said Durant after Friday’s game. The Nets had to have big efforts from Irving, Durant and Brown to hold off a talented Cavs team to avoid playing another game to earn a spot in the postseason.
The Nets shot 71% in the first quarter and took a 40-20 lead at the end of the period. By halftime they were up 57-43. Yet the Cavs, who face the winner of last night’s Atlanta Hawks-Charlotte Hornets Play-In game at home tomorrow, were down just 99-93 with 4:17 remaining in the game. The charge was led by their dynamic point guard Darius Garland, who tied Irving for a game-high 34 points.
Now the Nets will take on the No. 2 seed Boston Celtics. The best-of-seven series could be determined by the availability of Nets forward Ben Simmons (back) and Celtics center Robert Williams. Both defensive specialists are out with injuries.
“I know that team very well and they know us very well and it’ll be a back and forth,” said Irving, who played for the Celtics from 2017-19, “and once you throw that ball in the air, you’re going to really see some spectacular basketball.”