Game 1 of the Celtics vs. Nets series proved to be a very high octane contest, one that saw the Nets pull away 104-93 in a back and forth matchup. This series may end up being much more competitive than fans gave it credit for, that is if Boston comes out with the same level of intensity they showed Saturday night. While the final outcome of this series may have already written itself, there is still reason to tune in, as Game 1 between the Celtics vs. Nets provided many hard-hitting narratives to follow the rest of the series.
Celtics vs. Nets Game 1 Takeaways
The Brooklyn Big Three
The Brooklyn Nets just simply have too much firepower for a Jaylen Brown-less Celtics bunch. The trio of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving have only been on the floor together eight prior times before Game 1 of this Celtics vs. Nets series, but they held a 6-2 record (now 7-2) when they were all available. Brooklyn’s “Big Three” accounted for 98 of the teams 104, scoring or assisting on each one of those 98 points.
This goes to show the level of impact that these three are going to have on each and every game of the postseason moving forward, and how it is nearly impossible to stop them.
The Nets came out of the gates slow, allowing the Celtics to capitalize on many of their missed field goals and lackluster defense. After surrendering a 53-47 deficit heading into the half, the Nets came out firing in the third quarter and ultimately ran away with the lead. While the second half provided many examples of what this superteam is capable of when they are humming at their finest, Game 1 also showed a handful of minor cracks in the armor of the Brooklyn Nets.
Are The Nets More Vulnerable Than We Think?
The Brooklyn Nets have enough star power to take a couple of possessions off, sacrificing an extra stretch or two from opponents in order to rotate their franchise superstars to stagger enough minutes to last a whole contest. That first half, granted the Boston Celtics rose to the occasion to match their level of intensity, the star-studded juggernaut that the Brooklyn Nets are made out to be may not be as invincible as fans give them credit for.
When the Nets looked away from their stars and into the second unit, they received little to no help from their supporting cast.
The bench put up just 11 total points from Jeff Green (27 minutes), Bruce Brown (18 minutes), Landry Shamet (14 minutes), and Nicolas Claxton (11 minutes). Boston countered this with 25 points from their second unit, lead by a dominant defensive showing from Robert Williams, who recorded 11 points, nine rebounds, and a Celtics franchise playoff-record nine blocks, just one short of tying the NBA record shared with Andrew Bynum, Mark Eaton, and Hakeem Olajuwon. Williams is going to continue to be the Celtics x-factor in the series moving forward.
Brooklyn’s bench ranked in just the middle of the pack this season in PPG (35.6), which is greater than Boston (31), but it may come back to bite them if they emerge the victors in this series. The Nets are one of the rare teams in the league that can mask the deficiencies of their second unit thanks to the firepower they possess at the top of the roster, but they may need a bit more of a bolster down the stretch of the postseason.
If this is their biggest concern moving forward, then they should not have much else to worry about at least for the remainder of the Celtics vs. Nets series.
High Energy From The Boston Celtics
To their credit, the Boston Celtics came out of the gates locked in for this matchup. The high energy of the Barclays Center did not overwhelm them one bit as Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker opened the game with some quick jumpers and soon enough, Boston saw themselves in from 32-20 at one juncture. Fans wrote them off immediately with the news of Jaylen Brown being out after undergoing wrist surgery, but there is still reason to tune into each game and watch how this team plays up to Brooklyn’s level of play.
Marcus Smart provided a much-needed scoring boost with Brown out of the lineup. He scored 17 points on 6/13 shooting and 3/8 from beyond the arc. For better or worse, he is going to have a much more featured role in the offense. Jayson Tatum had a target on his back from the tip. With Brown no longer a factor to be worried about, the Nets knew the offense was going to run through Tatum, who still managed to score 22 points in a much more featured role.
Tatum has the opportunity to show out on the biggest stage against the arguable championship favorite, even if they lose, and remind haters that he is capable of being a leader on a team that can hang with the best the league has to offer.
Historically speaking, the Celtics often play at their best when their backs are up against the wall. If last night’s team had Jaylen Brown into the fold, we are looking at a completely different series in my opinion. The best fans can hope for is an overall improvement from their supporting cast and growth from the young guys. We saw growth from one young guy in particular, and he is going to continue to be a thorn in Brooklyn’s side the rest of the series.
Robert Williams III Is For Real
A game-time decision prior to Saturday’s contest, Celtics fans are thanking their lucky stars that The Timelord suited up for the C’s and provided a strong helping hand against the loaded Nets team. He was undoubtedly the most talented big man on the floor and the biggest difference-maker on the defensive end for either team. Williams sent back a total of nine shots, setting a Celtics playoff record and just one short of the NBA record, as stated before.
Williams has taken a massive leap in his new role as starting center, ever since the Celtics dealt Daniel Theis to the Chicago Bulls at the trade deadline. He has taken the new responsibility and ran with it. Asking to maintain a rate of nine blocks a night is a lot to ask, but if he can continue to be the most stout defender on the floor for Boston and keep sending back shots for Brooklyn at a high clip, it is going to allow Boston more of a chance to keep a tight margin with the Nets. It may even be enough to steal a game.
That is the kind of player the Celtics need Williams to be moving forward, now and in the following seasons. This Celtics vs. Nets series is a massive opportunity for Williams to do so against three of the best offensive talents in the league.
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