Both of the Celtics’ first two wins in their first-round series against the Nets had them coming from behind late in the game. That wasn’t the case Saturday night, as the C’s took control of the lead midway through the first quarter and never relinquished it again. They’d go on to win 109-103, taking a 3-0 lead in the series.
Early in the game, two things that plagued the Celtics in Game 2 proved issues again. The Nets grabbed three offensive rebounds in the first four minutes. Bruce Brown also continued to give the C’s problems, scoring seven points before the first TV timeout.
Coming out of the break, Jayson Tatum went on an 8-0 run on his own. He capped that with a steal and score that gave the Celtics their first lead of the night at 13-12.
With the Celtics up 26-20 and three minutes to go in the first, Robert Williams took the floor since his knee injury in late March. He didn’t record any stats during his initial stint, and the C’s took a 30-25 lead into the first quarter break.
Williams made his presence felt to start the second quarter. His first block led to a Payton Pritchard shot which was part of a run that put the Celtics up 34-25, their largest lead of the night to that point.
Over the next eight minutes the Nets slowly chipped away. A Nic Claxton layup off a turnover cut the Boston lead to five points with three minutes to go until halftime.
The Nets kept getting closer in the final minutes. They ended the half on a 17-10 run, leaving the score 53-50 heading into the break.
To start the second half, the Celtics hit a pair of quick shots including a Daniel Theis three. That put them back up eight points.
Brooklyn answered with a 7-2 run of its own, getting back within a basket. That’s when the Celtics defense really locked in. That facilitated a 16-4 run, but the Nets then went on a 10-3 run in response, with Patty Mills hitting a three pointer to get his team within three with a minute to play in the quarter.
That was more than enough time for the Celtics to pour water on the fire once again. A 7-0 run took just 48 seconds, and featured four consecutive points from Marcus Smart. A Jaylen Brown coast-to-coast dunk was the final play of the quarter, and gave the Celtics a nine point cushion, with the C’s up 81-72 heading into the fourth.
It was Blake Griffin, playing in his first game since April 2, giving the Celtics headaches to start the four quarter. He hit a pair of threes during a 12-5 run, although Brooklyn never got within one possession.
With six minutes to go in the quarter, Brown stepped up as the stopper for the Celtics. He hit a pair of big shots, including a fadeaway from the top of the key to re-extend the lead to nine at 93-84.
Coming out of the timeout following that play, Grant Williams stole the inbound pass and flipped it to Jayson Tatum who hit a layup and completed an and-1. An Al Horford corner three pointer a few minutes later proved to be the dagger. Brooklyn put up a late charge, but it was too little too late.
Tatum finished with a game-high 39 points, while Jaylen Brown added 23. Payton Pritchard led the C’s bench with 10.
Bruce Brown once again was a problem for the Celtics, he finished with 26 points. Kevin Durant managed just 16, as did Kyrie Irving who missed most of the fourth quarter after picking up five fouls.
The Celtics will go for the sweep Monday night at the Barclays Center. Tip-off will be at 7 p.m., with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30 on 98.5 The Sports Hub.