Nets rout Celtics 123-104 in first matchup of the year

Image by @BrooklynNetsAus

In the first matchup between the two eastern conference powerhouses, the Nets outplayed the Celtics in all aspects. It was Ime Udoka’s first game against his former team, but the result wasn’t quite what he had planned. The final score wasn’t as close as it looks, as the Nets cruised to a 30 point lead midway through the 3rd quarter. Early in the game, Kevin Durant passed Allen Iverson to crack the top 25 in scoring in NBA history.  The 123-104 rout was an all around team victory, with KD and Harden only combining for 41 of the Nets 123 points. 

TAKEAWAYS

  • Patty Mills is a certified SNIPER
  • Cam Thomas has intriguing defensive potential
  • LaMarcus Aldridge – your Brooklyn Nets starting center
  • Kevin Durant has help

RECAP

First Quarter

The Nets got off to a strong start, taking a 12-5 lead behind Patty Mills knocking down 3 triples in the first 3 and a half minutes of the game. The Nets extended the lead to 16-7 behind a combined 6-6 from the field from Durant and Mills, with Cam Thomas checking into the game around the 7 minute mark. Deandre Bembry had great intensity in the first period tallying 7 boards to go along with 5 points in the first 9 minutes. 

The Nets ended the first with a 29-22 lead. KD leads all scorers with 10 points. The Nets played well defensively, holding Boston to 38% from the field. The Nets held Boston’s superstars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to 1-4 from the field and 0-2, respectively.

A few changes in the rotation tonight to go along with Aldridge replacing Blake Griffin in the starting lineup: James Johnson and Paul Millsap both checked into the game before Blake Griffin, and boy are these Cam Thomas minutes in the first quarter look a lot more pleasant than Jevon Carter.

Second Quarter

Brooklyn opened the second quarter on an 11-3 run, and took a commanding 40-25 lead. This forced Boston to use a timeout after a stepback James Harden 3 point shot, his first make on his fifth attempt from the field tonight. 

The Nets lead 52-37 halfway through the second. Jevon Carter knocked down both his three point attempts and Harden added 7 points. The Cam Thomas-Kevin Durant connection looks to be lethal, with Cam Thomas finding KD in transition to lead to a MONSTER slam.

Cam Thomas with a highlight block climbing the ladder on Dennis Schroeder sending the basketball ricocheting off the backboard in the final minute of the period. 

62-49 heading into the break. 

Halftime 

Nets have got to guard the perimeter better, Celtics are getting too many open looks, although only connecting on 7 of 27 attempts, nets ought to do better limiting the opportunities. 

Aldridge struggled to find his rhythm early in the first half, missing shots Nets fans have become accustomed to seeing fall. But ended the half much better knocking down two jumpers and helping the Nets re-cement a double figure lead.

Tatum and Schroeder lead the Celtics in scoring at the half with 9 apiece. Tatum’s recent streak of great play hasn’t translated well against the Nets defense, shooting just 3-11 from the field in the first half.

A familiar foe in Enes Kanter who has frequently played well against the Nets in years past has 7 points and 5 rebounds, 4 of which came on offense, through the half. Keeping him off the boards should be a priority.

As he’s been given more opportunities, the more he has impressed. Rookie Cam Thomas looks like he belongs out there alongside the Nets stars. 

Third Quarter

An unorthodox start to the half with a technical free throw, which was missed by Durant, due to a technical on Boston coach Ime Udoka. Bembry has been all over the place to start the quarter, with a score, a rebound, and a steal all in the first minute. He’s been a great glue guy and a great offseason addition by Marks. In a game without Bruce Brown, he has filled that role perfectly. 

The Nets are clicking on all cylinders, taking the largest lead of the night, 73-52. A pair of LMA jumpers and a fast break score by Patty Mills helping to fuel the run. When the nets are playing like this not many teams can play with them, and man it’s fun to watch.

Breaking news: Patty Mills found absolutely unconscious behind the 3 point line

Aldridge and KD, the Nets two midrange maestros, helped power the nets out to a 89-60 lead with about 5 minutes to go. James Harden once again nailed a stepback 3 ripping the Celtics hearts out and forcing another timeout. 

Aldridge had a fantastic 3rd quarter scoring 13 points, he should be here to stay in the starting lineup. 97-76 at the end of the 3rd.

Fourth Quarter

The Celtics opened the period on a 5-0 run, cutting the Nets lead to 16. Marcus Smart’s reckless aggressiveness led to two fouls on James Harden within seconds of each other but then drew a charge on Harden on brooklyns next offensive possession. However, Patty Mills almost immediately drew another charge on Schroeder on the other side of the court. 

Sloppy play in 4th and a 99-85 lead now for the Nets, Boston fans have re-emerged as the Celtics have reignited hope. But, a Patty Mills corner 3 would silence the crowd shortly thereafter. 

107-94 with 5:28 left to play. Brooklyn has struggled to put Boston away late in the game. The Celtics aren’t giving up easily, and have been playing harder than the Nets this quarter, and more attention to detail will be needed to close it out.

123-104

NETS WIN!

TOP PERFORMERS

Kevin Durant

A modest night for the best scorer in the game, 21 points and 8 assists to go along with 2 steals on the night. KD shot 8-16 on his field goal attempts in a great performance. KD took what was given to him and worked within the offense, not trying to do to much or force anything, something the Celtics stars should take notice of.

James Harden

A team high +29, Harden finished with 20 points and 11 assists, it wasn’t his best performance but knocked down big 3’s and got to the charity stripe 9 times and made 8 of his tries. 

Lamarcus Aldridge

LMA impressed in his first start, doing most of his damage in the second half helping the Nets put the game out of reach. Scoring 17 points and grabbing 9 boards on 7-13 shooting, after a 2-7 first half, LaMarcus adds a new dimension to the Nets that they haven’t had since Brook Lopez, a reliable and efficient presence on the low block who can always be counted on for a bucket in a hunch. His mid range shooting and ability to score in the post have been a new and fun addition to watch on this Nets team. 

Patty Mills

What more could you ask for from the Aussie? His 7-10 from 3 point range was a major catalyst for the Nets win. His stellar play couldn’t have come at a better time with Joe Harris out with injury. 

Cam Thomas

The Nets rookie might not be a star just yet, but the future looks bright. The kid fears nobody, plain and simple, and his confidence is to be admired. A highlight block on Schroeder in the first half shows he’s more than capable as a defender. Only 13 points on 4-11 shooting for the rook, but all signs are pointing up from here.

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