By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
After an emotional season-opening win on Wednesday, the Celtics came crashing back to reality in a 123-95 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas. Brooklyn’s superstar duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving proved to be too much for Boston once they found their rhythm.
Both teams started slow with no points scored in the first two minutes. With their stars not hitting, each side turned to secondary scoring. At the first TV timeout, the Nets led 15-12 with Joe Harris leading Brooklyn in scoring, while Marcus Smart was pacing the Celtics.
The teams continued trading baskets for the remainder of the first quarter, with the Nets taking a 26-22 lead into the break. However, the Celtics grabbed some momentum thanks to a Jaylen Brown block of Kyrie Irving late in the period.
After being held scoreless in the first quarter, Jayson Tatum came out with six quick points in the second. His burst, along with a pair of buckets from Semi Ojeleye, gave the Celtics a 37-32 lead halfway through the second quarter.
As halftime approached, the Nets’ superstars woke up and helped their team regain the lead. Irving and Kevin Durant went on a 9-2 to get the Nets a 45-43 lead with three minutes to go until the break.
Still, the Celtics had one more run left in them, highlighted by Jayson Tatum hitting a deep turnaround three in Kyrie Irving’s face at the shot clock buzzer. Boston went into the locker room leading 54-51.
Tatum even hit him with the friendly butt slap after this. pic.twitter.com/NIumkuyIir— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) December 25, 2020
Durant took the game over to start the second half, with nine straight points on 4-of-4 shooting. That was followed by a 13-1 Nets run, and by the time the horn sounded to end the third quarter the Nets had an 86-77 lead.
That run continued into the fourth. With the game out of reach for most of the final quarter, Brad Stevens took some time to experiment with different lineups.
Aaron Nesmith, the Celtics top 2020 draft pick, made his NBA debut, knocking down a three pointer for his first career basket. Carsen Edwards, Tremont Waters, and Javonte Green also played for the first time this season.
Jaylen Brown led the Celtics in scoring with 27 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds. Jayson Tatum (20 points) and Marcus Smart (13 points) were the only other Celtics in double digits.
Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant took over the game in superstar fashion. Irving had a game-high 37 points, and shot 7-of-10 from three. He also totaled eight assists. The beneficiary of most of those was Kevin Durant, who scored 29 points of his own. While those two did most of their damage on the perimeter, Jarrett Allen dominated the paint with nine points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks.
With the loss, the Celtics fall to 1-1. The team now heads on the road for the first time this season, for back-to-back games with the Indiana Pacers. That series begins on Sunday with an 8 p.m. tip off. Pregame coverage begins at 7:30 on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com