What can Nets do against Celtics ahead of Game 2?

The Boston Celtics beat the Brooklyn Nets 115-144 on Sunday thanks in part to the last second heroics of Jayson Tatum. It was a game the Nets were never really in control of, even as they had a one-point lead with 40 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and possession of the ball.

The Celtics had been up 15 for a time in the second half, and the Nets role players were not playing well. Kyrie Irving was fantastic as always, using fuel from a hostile TD Garden crowd to blow up for 39 points, but a quiet (by his standards) 23 point night from Kevin Durant proved to not be enough. What can the Nets do to make sure Game 2 falls their way?


Although Durant didn’t have one of his better days against Boston’s top-ranked defense, it can’t be the KD and Kyrie show or the Nets will get bounced from the playoffs one again.

Sure, they are two of the greatest players in the world. When they’re both hot they can seem nearly impossible to beat, but the playoffs are different. You can afford to have an off night in the playoffs, and if one of your stars is, someone else has to step up.

With KD being doubled to death all game, who was going to step up and assist Kyrie? Early in the first half, it appeared to be Seth Curry, but he went quiet and finished the game with a meager nine points in 30 minutes. That was the story for the rest of the starters, as Bruce Brown had a similarly awful five points in 37 minutes, and Andre Drummond contributed eight in his 17.

22 points from three other starters is not going to cut it, and when that happens you get games like Sundays with the Celtics stealing one at home at the last second.

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Jayson Tatum is without a doubt the engine for the Celtics offense. If he doesn’t go, the Celtics don’t go. On Sunday Tatum played more minutes than anyone else in the game and racked up 31 points, four rebounds, and eight assists. He played stout defense as well, notably his stifling coverage on Durant as he attempted a 30-footer with 15 seconds to go. The shot was no good and the Celtics turned their next possession into a Tatum game-winning layup as time ran out.

While the rest of the team certainly did their part, as Al Horford had an impressive 20 point, 15 rebound double-double and both Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown dropped 20 each, it comes down to how well Tatum is playing for the Celtics to have a chance.

Tatum has been known to go on cold streaks that doom the Celtics scoring ability in games. He’s also showed at times to be an emotional player who can get in his own head. The Nets need to find a way to force him off his game to slow down the Boston’s momentum in Game 2.