The Celtics harassed Durant and Irving into 1-for-17 second-half shooting in a 114-107 Game 2 win over the Nets on Wednesday.
Teams that won the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home have won the series 94% of the time. For a while, it seemed this high-intensity series wouldn’t be so resolved, even if Boston pulled out Game 2. But the Celtics’ 23-4 run in the fourth quarter gave them not only a 2-0 series lead, it raised questions about whether Brooklyn can hang with Boston much more than typical of a 2-7 matchup.
Durant (who finished with a game-high 27 points) got plenty of free throws (18-for-20). But the Celtics kept him out of rhythm (4-of-17 from the field). Despite really controlling the ball, Durant didn’t drive a high-enough level of offense (five assists and six turnovers)
Irving (10 points on 4-of-13 shooting with one assist and two turnovers) was less involved – especially late. Playing 40 minutes, he looked gassed in the fourth quarter. Ditto Durant at 42 minutes. But the Nets have no alternative but to rely heavily on their stars.
At least they’ll get two days off before Game 3 Saturday in Brooklyn.
From defending the Nets’ stars and on, this was such a strong team effort from the Celtics.
Brown (22 points), Tatum (19 points) and – yes – Pritchard took turns hitting key shots late. Held in check as a scorer earlier, Tatum excelled as a passer (10 assists). Grant Williams (17 points on 4-of-4 shooting, including three 3-pointers) came off the bench to spread the floor and play versatile defense. Picked on more defensively Daniel Theis at least scored efficiently (15 points on 7-of-9 shooting). Al Horford added 16 points.
Durant and Irving got some help, especially from Bruce Brown (23 points, eight rebounds, four assists and bothersome defense on Tatum).
But Brooklyn just can’t survive its stars playing like this, and Boston was good enough to bring out the worst in Durand and Irving.