IN A NUTSHELL
Never underestimate a hungry team in an NBA matchup, no matter what the opposing squad may be or what they might’ve recently achieved. The Boston Celtics had a near-miraculous but still hard-fought win last night against the Indiana Pacers, and the Brooklyn Nets have notably faltered during a long March on the road, but underestimating the latter like the entire league has done all season would be unwise. When you do that you end up with grotesque brutalities such as that which Brooklyn perpetrated against Boston back in January of this year.
And…tonight ultimately wasn’t that much different! After coming out strong for the first quarter and a fair portion of the second, the Celtics completely folded under the pressure of a tactical scoring barrage by D’Angelo Russell. While they managed to get Brooklyn’s 19-point lead down to 10 at one point and Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris and, somewhat surprisingly, Daniel Theis all fought hard, the hole was too deep and the game ended with a demoralizing 110-96 win by the Nets.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Well, not much. Might as well just point-by-point the few bright spots:
- Hayward had one of his best games in a while (19-6-3-1-1), looking confident and driving to the rim more potently. The latter points, I believe, are ultimately more salient, as it potentially bodes well for gut-check time in the playoffs.
- Morris shot poorly but made his money on drives that earned him trips to the charity stripe, ending the night with 16 points.
- Daniel Theis made the most of his spot minutes (, even in moments where other folks on the court seemed to be sleepwalking.
WHAT WENT WRONG
There are legitimate criticisms one can levy against the Nets, but backcourt offense is not one of them. It was absolutely stroke-inducing to see Russell whip out the same pyrotechnics he used successfully in that January game—with practically no resistance from the Celtics, once again. (Just in case anyone forgot, the Nets had a lead near the 40-point mark at one point in that contest.)
This time around wasn’t quite that bad in terms of volume, if only because Boston played relatively well during much of the first half. (Not coincidentally, Russell had mundane performances in those stretches.) It was, however, that bad and arguably worse in terms of the Celtics’ inability to make simple adjustments or execute intended adjustments.
Christ, put traps or double teams on Russell and force the Nets to beat them with Joe Harris and Rodion Kurucs. Don’t position yourself to rack up ticky-tack BS foul calls. Contest rebounds, like, maybe just a little bit sometimes. Oh, and also don’t do anything Terry Rozier did. What a godawful showing.
WHAT THE HELL
This is just here for me to be linguistically amused by the name Rodion Kurucs. It’s like the name of a vor v zakone in Brighton Beach, or perhaps a new opponent for Godzilla.
GREEN FIRE HIGHLIGHTS
Jaylen Brown didn’t have the greatest game offensively, but my God this block was beautiful:
Gordon with the vision to drop a dime for Theis: