Three thoughts on Brooklyn’s 123-109 win over Boston on Tuesday …
In the end, the Celtics were outgunned.
Boston Credit: Three lost starters, with Kemba Walker and Robert Williams joining Jaylen Brown on the bench for the past two games, the Celtics were struggling, making their way as Brooklyn built the lead, tying at seven points midway through the third quarter. But the Nets’ firepower is just overwhelming. After combining for 104 points in Game 4, James Harden (34 points), Kyrie Irving (25) and Kevin Durant (24) amassed 83 in Game 5. With the Celtics closing in the fourth, they each knocked down a triple, expanding the advantage back to double digits and effectively putting the game out of reach. Overall, Brooklyn made 51.2% of his shots and 46.9% of his 3s, a prime example of the Nets’ offensive efficiency.
James Harden is a beast
Durant was on an MVP trajectory before injuries derailed his season and Irving had one of the best statistical seasons of his career. But Harden may be Brooklyn’s biggest player. He averaged 27.8 points in this series, accumulating 10.6 assists and 7.2 rebounds with him. He averaged nearly nine free throw attempts per game (hitting eight of them) and knocked down 46.1% of his 3s.
It’s crazy? Could have marked so much more. Since arriving in Brooklyn, Harden has clearly accepted his role as a facilitator. He’s still getting his points, but Gone are Houston’s peak days when Harden regularly attempted more than 20 shots. Harden made just 14.4 shots in this Celtics series, down from 16.6 he tried during the regular season.
There are many things that influence the chemistry between the Brooklyn Big Three. But Harden’s selfless play is one of the most important.
Bucks-Nets will be unmissable television
The Nets entered this series with questions. His big three Durant, Harden and Irving played just eight games together during the regular season, on the court for just 5.8% of Brooklyn’s total minutes. The defense, ranked in the bottom third of the NBA during the regular season, was suspect.
Did they answer the questions? Something like …
Brooklyn did what it had to do against a battered Boston team. And the more minutes Durant, Harden and Irving play together, the better they will be. But Milwaukee, whom the Nets will face in the next round, is an entirely different opponent. The Bucks are a deep, cohesive, battle-tested team that, even with Donte DiVincenzo’s season-ending injury, is strong at every position. The Nets’ star trio will be able to score, it will be interesting to see how Mike Budenholzer deploys Jrue Holiday, a defensive workhorse, in this series, but the supporting cast will be tested. Blake Griffin had his moments against Boston, but he shot below 40% and will be tested by great physical matchups with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez. Bucks can be explosive from the 3-point line; a 22-for-53 performance from three in Game 2 of his first-round series against Miami is proof of that, which means Bruce Brown, Joe Harris and others will have to be ready. on the perimeter.
Will Brooklyn’s defense hold up against a better opponent?
Will the Big Three be as efficient against Milwaukee’s defense as they were against Boston’s?
Next up is a heavyweight fight.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.