Kyrie Irving, Nets looking to go up 3-0 against Celtics

NBA Basketball

In the first quarter of Game 2, the Boston Celtics scrambled to defend Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving.

The Brooklyn Nets simply adjusted to Boston’s strategy at defending their stars with a clinic in ball movement and in a blur were on their way to a 2-0 series lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

The Nets hope to race out to another quick start while the Celtics hope the opening minutes unfold in a much different way Friday night when the series shifts to Boston for Game 3.

The Nets are trying to take a 3-0 series lead for the first time since their first-round sweep of the New York Knicks in 2004, and Game 4 is Sunday.

Brooklyn forward Jeff Green will miss the rest of the first-round playoff series due to a strained left plantar fascia.

Green left Brooklyn’s 130-108 victory on Tuesday after playing 12 minutes with what was initially called a bruised left foot. He will be re-evaluated in 10 days and might be available for the next round of the playoffs should the Nets advance.

Brooklyn has opened the series with two drastically different outcomes. In Game 1, the Nets trailed 12 before surging ahead in the final minutes for a 104-93 win when Durant, Harden and Irving combined for 82 points and the Nets shot 41.7 percent and totaled 18 assists.

“Whenever the ball moves, we’re very difficult to defend,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “We can score in isolation, but the more the ball moves, we knock the first domino down and then the teams chase and we’re excellent in those situations.”

On Tuesday, the Nets seized control early, taking a 14-point lead after the opening quarter, a 24-point lead by halftime en route to the win. Joe Harris scored 25 points and hit seven 3-pointers to tie a franchise postseason record and the Nets finished with 31 assists and shot 52.3 percent.

In the opening quarter, Harris scored 16 points, including 11 straight and sank three 3-pointers in a span of 80 seconds. Harris produced his big night while Brooklyn’s Big 3 combined for 61 points and 18 assists.

“It seemed like in Game 1, I had a tendency to creep over to the ball, bringing my defender and not allowing one of the three guys at least enough space to operate,” Harris said. “So, a lot of it was just talking about getting even with the foul line extended, and just trying to play in that area.”

While the Nets enjoyed an easy win, they are not expecting to cruise in Boston, where Irving will play in front of fans for the first time since leaving the Celtics in free agency following the 2018-19 season.

Boston’s biggest concern is not whatever fan reaction awaits Irving but finding a way to get Jayson Tatum going to avoid falling into a three games-to-none hole for the first time since getting swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round in 2015.

Tatum scored 50 points in the play-in win over the Washington Wizards but has mostly been neutralized so far by totaling 31 points on 9-of-32 from the floor against the Nets. He started the series by making three of his first six shots but is 6-of-26 after the first quarter of Game 1 and scored nine points in 21 minutes on Tuesday before leaving the game after the third quarter when he was poked in the eye by Durant.

“We’re running plays for him; we’re doing everything that we can to help him. But at the same time, Jayson has to continue to be able to adjust to the defense that he’s seeing out there,” Boston guard Marcus Smart said. “We just gotta continue to get open for him. We gotta continue to get in his eyesight, and JT (has) to continue to make the pass to us, even if we’re making or missing them. Eventually, shots will fall, and it’ll open up a lot for him.”

Celtics coach Brad Stevens described Tatum’s eye as “pretty swollen” but also said he expects him to play Friday.

–Field Level Media

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Now Trending on KRQE.com

Albuquerque Hourly Forecast

Don't Miss

MORE IN DON'T MISS

Photo Galleries

MORE PHOTO GALLERIES

News Resources - Maps

MORE NEWS RESOURCES