A rare New Year’s Eve home game tonight gave Celtics fans reason to pop some champagne tonight. OK, maybe that’s a bit much, but the Cs did complete 2017 by hanging on for a 108-105 over the Brooklyn Nets. The Celts had five players in double figures while the Nets had six. This was Boston’s seventh straight win over Brooklyn, but the visitors played hard, never quit, and demonstrated why it’s good news that the Cs don’t have to count on having the #NetsPick anymore.
As we know, the Celtics have had a jam-packed schedule so far, but they’ve handled it well:
The Game Flow
The Nets allow 110 points per game, which is fifth most in the NBA, so we shouldn’t have been surprised when the Celtics bolted out to a 16-5 lead in the first five minutes. When Terry Rozier hit a three at the first-quarter buzzer, the Cs led 38-28. Boston shot 16-23 (68.2%) in the period, and Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown (back from resting his sore Achilles) and Marcus Morris (off the bench) had seven apiece. Aron Baynes chipped in three rebounds, three assists and one block, and several times manhandled Tyler Zeller when he attempted to post up. Another good sign: twice Al Horford aggressively ripped down offensive boards that lead to successful three-pointers.
In the second, the Celts extended to a 13-point lead, highlighted by Horford rejecting consecutive Brooklyn shots in the paint. But Brooklyn bounced back with nine straight points, and ultimately closed to within one point at 47-46. Kyrie picked up a technical after a non-call, and a frustration offensive foul. Fortunately, he then shut his mouth and let his game do the talking, dropping two triples and two mid-range shots. He finished the half with a game-high 17, followed by Rozier with 10. However, the Nets trailed only 61-59 at the break. Caris LeVert led Brooklyn with 12 points and four assists.
In that first half, Boston dominated in shooting percentage (61.9% to 47.9%) and rebounds (26 to 14), but committed 10 turnovers to only one by the Nets. The Cs also hardly got to the line, shooting just 1-3 compared to Brooklyn’s 7-8.
Early in the third, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson made a layup to tie it at 67, but the Cs went on a 9-1 run capped by a Morris stepback jumper (the man can score one-on-one). After a Nets timeout, Smart fed Morris for a three to give Boston a 79-68 lead. Baynes then stopped a three-on-one fast break, forced a jump ball, and won the jump ball. The Cs led 82-76 at the end of three, and Kyrie had 21 points.
Early in the fourth, Smart stole a dribble and broke out, but flubbed the layup. Rozier then fouled Allen Crabbe on a made three, and the four-point play brought Brooklyn within 84-80. However, Consecutive threes by Morris and Jayson Tatum – both off Horford assists – put the Cs back up by 11 with 9:35 to play.
After the Nets committed their second 24-second violation of the night, Smart lobbed to Horford for a jam – 93-80, Boston. But the Nets wouldn’t go away. Crabbe hit a triple and assisted on a Quincy Acy dunk, drawing Brooklyn within seven with 4:46 left. After a timeout, Kyrie responded with a three. The Cs, though, couldn’t wrap it up – some missed free throws, a turnover, a Hollis-Jefferson and-one and suddenly it was 103-98 with 2:05 remaining.
The Nets wouldn’t give up. They scrapped for three offensive rebounds on one possession and finally Acy converted a three-pointer to get within 105-103. Smart was fouled intentionally, and when he missed his second FT, the Nets were alive. But Spencer Dinwiddie took a panicky 30-footer that missed the rim. Kyrie rebounded, and after Boston’s timeout he was intentionally fouled. He swished both for a five-point lead. Brooklyn’s last-gasp layup made the final score 108-105.
- Kyrie finished with game-high 28 points on 10-21 and a new season-high of eight rebounds.
- Horford: 10 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three blocks.
- Morris: 15 points; Rozier: 14 points; Baynes: 10 rebounds.
- Hollis-Jefferson: team-high 22 points on 10-21 and 12 rebounds.
- The Cs outrebounded Brooklyn 50-45 and are now 20-0 when winning the boards.
- We had to deal with revenge games from Bradley, Jerebko and Olynyk, but not Tyler Zeller. Although he nailed a corner three, those were his only points (1-6 shooting). He also airballed a layup and was pounded physically by Baynes all night.
- The refs. After three quarters, Brooklyn had been charged with just eight fouls and the Cs had gone to the line for only five free throws (BUT the Nets ended with 19 fouls and Boston shot 25 FTs).
What the Hell Just Happened?
That’s the question Brooklyn was asking after this sequence.
Tweets of the Night
He’s 19 but mature beyond his years.