May 22, 2021
Tonight over 13,000 fans came to Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the Nets’ first playoff game. (New York City opened 100% this month after months of COVID-19 restrictions. The team said that over 90% of the crowd will be vaccinated. Those in unvaccinated seating sections will not be required to wear masks in seats.) Despite trailing early on, the Nets came to life late, beating the Boston Celtics 104-93.
Brooklyn scored first when Kyrie Irving knocked down a jumper. But Boston’s Jaysom Tatum answered (twice), to make it 4-2. James Harden blew by Boston’s defensae to score, but Kemba Walker and Tatum both hit three-pointers to push Boston’s lead to 13-4. Harris charged to the hoop, and Kevin Durant slammed down a dunk. He then scored again to make it 13-10.
This type of volleying continued through the quarter, though the Nets struggled on offense. The team missed shots and opened the game 0-8 on field goals. But they kept enough pace with the Celtics to keep it from becoming a runaway. It was 21-16 at the end of the quarter.
Brooklyn continued missing shots in the second quarter. The Celtics built their lead. When Brooklyn took a timeout with 9 minutes left in the half, Boston was up by 12. But after back-to-back turnovers, Harden recovered the ball and threw the ball to Claxton for the throw-down. Then Harden got fouled and made both free throws. It was 32-26, with 7:39 left.
The Nets eventually pulled within three, but were hampered by missed shots and fouls. The action was broken up by foul calls and free throws; Durant was called for an offensive foul. Griffin got fouled hard and made one of his two free throws. Durant himself was fouled later. It was 53-47 at the half.
In the third quarter, Boston’s lead narrowed even more. Walker hit a jumper; the Celtics led 57-54 before Irving hit a three and tied the game. Blake Griffin had a steal but then lost the ball after a far-flung pass to Durant. But Durant made up for the loss with a three-pointer that gave Brooklyn its first lead of the game.
The Nets led 60-57 at the midpoint of the third quarter. With 8:15 to go, it was Boston’s ball. But it went out of bounds. Durant scored, and Harden drilled a three to make it 65-57. It was their largest lead of the game, and they maintained it thanks to some inspired playing by Durant. (He scored 13 points in the third quarter.) Brooklyn lead 78-73 at the end of the third.
The Nets maintained a slim lead for over half of the fourth quarter. As Boston’s offense slowed; Durant took advantage of a Celtics turnover to make a steal and a slam. With 5:45 remaining, the lead went up to 10. It was 89-79 after Brooklyn went on a 7-0 run. Then Green’s back-to-back free throws after a foul. That made it a 9-0 run. Irving later tipped in a shot to extend the Nets’ lead to 13. Jeff Green nailed a three to extend the lead. Irving also scored to put Brooklyn up 99-82.
The referees called a flagrant foul on Durant for a play in which both he and Jaysom Tatum fell to the ground. (Tatum went up for a shot; Durant’s foot landed under his. Both lost their balance and fell to the ground.) Tatum got three free throws and made them all. And Kemba Walker made back-to-back threes. But it was too late. The Nets held on to win, 104-93.