Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving didn’t click Wednesday, and now Brooklyn is staring down a 2–0 hole against a more well-organized Boston squad.
BOSTON — The clock ticked towards zero, and along with the Nets sideline, two future Hall of Famers with more than 200 playoff games between them looked shook. This was a game Brooklyn had to win. Needed to win.
Should have won. A 10-point halftime lead. Help from the supporting cast. A Celtics defense that allowed the Nets to shoot 61% in the first half. A team with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would have to kick the game away to lose this one.
And it did. Badly. The Nets shot 31% in the second half. In those final 24 minutes, Durant didn’t make a field goal. Irving, lustily booed for the second game in a row, finished 4-of-13. Seven Celtics finished in double-figures.
Payton Pritchard— Payton Pritchard!—scored 10 in 16 minutes. Durant and Irving rank among the NBA’s most feared fourth-quarter scorers. Boston throttled the Nets 29–17 over the final 12 minutes.
Boston 114, Brooklyn 107.
The Celtics take a 2–0 series lead.
And the Nets are in a world of trouble.
For weeks, Brooklyn was the NBA’s boogeyman. Two games against the Celtics and the Nets have exposed me. Durant looks tired. He averaged 41 minutes per game in the final five games of the regular season. He logged 42 in the play-in game. Against Boston, Durant isn’t just catching up with good defenders. He’s wrestling with them. He’s scored 50 points in the first two games of this series. He’s needed 41 shots to do it.
“They’re being physical,” said Steve Nash. “They’re up and into him, grabbing him, holding him, all that stuff you come to expect. He’s been uncomfortable and hasn’t looked like he’s been able to get his rhythm.”
Said Durant, “They’re playing me with two, three guys sometimes when I’m off the ball, mucking up actions when I run off stuff. I see [Al] Horford leaving his man and come over to hit me sometime. They’re just playing two or three guys, hitting me wherever I go.”
Irving was brilliant in Game 1. In Game 2, he was a no-show. He played 40 minutes. He scored 10 points. He handed out one assist. His most positive contribution was on the glass (eight rebounds). Irving faced the expected jeering from the 19,156 inside TD Garden. In Game 1, he fed off it. In Game 2, he flopped.