The Brooklyn Nets have a 3-1 series lead over the Boston Celtics as they head to Brooklyn for Game 5 and possibly the end of the series.
The Nets winning the series was never really in question, even after losing Game 3 in the TD Garden. However, the Nets have yet to figure out how they plan to play for the rest of the playoffs.
Head Coach Steve Nash seems to be experimenting with his team.
Since the Nets’ big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving have not spent much time together on the court together, this series has been full of experimentation and building chemistry.
Nash knows that to win in the playoffs, you need to win many different styles of games.
This first-round series is just figuring out what works and trying to do it fast before they face off against an excellent Milwaukee Bucks team.
Each game has been different, and in Game 1, because of poor shooting by the Nets as a whole, shooting just 42% from the field, the team was forced into competing without putting their best offensive foot forward.
The Nets only scored 104 points, with the big three having 82 of those points, but held the Celtics to just 93 points, with only Jayson Tatum scoring over 20 points, with 22, but shooting a dismal 30% from the field. The Nets also forced 12 turnovers and had 7 blocks and 7 steals to add to their superb defensive outing, posting a 101.8 Defensive Rating Per 100 possessions.
In Game 2, the Nets defense was again solid, only allowing 108 points, most of which was in the second half, while the game was already over as the Nets held a 24-point lead going into halftime. Tatum did get hurt in this game for the Celtics, only playing 3 minutes in the second half. The Nets forced 15 turnovers and once again had 7 steals and 7 blocks.
The Nets’ offense stood out in this game, having amazing ball movement and finding open shooters, specifically, Joe Harris. At halftime, Harris was 6 of 8 fantastic from three-point land, along with 22 points. The team shot over 50% from the field and beyond the acre, which led to a 71-point first half.
The catalyst of all this scoring was the Nets’ ability to move the ball, posting 19 assists, with three players with four or more assists in the first half. This was the offense that Nets fans have dreamed of, with the big three creating wide-open shots for each other and other dead-eye shooters on the team.
Game 3 was the only loss of the series, and well, the Nets saw how amazing they played in Game 2 and decided to play the exact opposite. A cause of this could have been because key rotational piece Jeff Green missed this game and is likely to sit at least ten days, suffering an injury in Game 2. The Nets struggled on defense as Tatum, coming back from sitting out most of the second half in Game 2, came out and dropped 50 on them. Marcus Smart added another 23, shooting over 70% from the field. It seemed like the Nets just got out hustled with Tristian Thompson collecting 9 offensive rebounds, as the Celtics outrebounded the Nets by 9.
Along with a dismal defensive performance, the Nets’ offense struggled despite scoring 119 points. Harden’s 41 and Durant’s 39, but the rest of the team was just not good behind them. No one who played over ten minutes shot over 40% from the field outside of those two. On top of the lack of help, the Nets played a hard-to-watch iso ball to remind them of Harden’s wild scoring days in Houston. The offense was simple, Harden and Durant take turns taking shots in isolation plays, and let’s hope those two carry us to a win. The Nets had a total of just 16 assists for the game, three fewer than what they had at halftime in Game 2.
Like in Game 3, in Game 4, the Nets’ defense was lacking, but instead of having a stagnant basic offense, we finally saw the full potential of the Nets’ offense on full display. The Nets’ big three combined for 104 points, adding 26 assists, which Harden did the brunt of the work, dishing out 18 assists on his own.
The offense was a beautiful mix of both isolation and ball movement, which seemed impossible to stop. Harden would take a pick and roll at the top of the key, Durant would post up on the wing, passing out of it when a double came or shooting over the stop, and Irving just slashed the defense to shreds.
It was an incredible offensive performance by the Nets and played to everyone’s strengths, scoring a whopping 141.
The Nets offense is still not at the height it can be, but this series has shown how devastating it can be while it quickly starts to reach its peak.
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