Nets destroy out with hold in play-in match nonetheless must peek Celtics with a mix of self belief and caution

NEW YORK — It became once Kevin Durant himself who asked the first question at his put up-sport press conference on Tuesday: “Yo, what did Bruce Brown command when he got up here?”

Forty-five minutes after the Brooklyn Nets earned the No. 7 seed with a 115-108 hold in opposition to the Cleveland Cavaliers within the play-in opener, Durant mentioned that his teammate had “mentioned one thing I didn’t love. Somebody excellent instructed me.” 

The quote that irked Durant came per an innocuous question: What’s essentially the most well-known to slowing down the Boston Celtics within the first spherical? 

“I mean, we are succesful of’t let [Jayson] Tatum fetch 50, we gotta be bodily with him,” Brown mentioned. Then came the fragment that Durant would slightly get long gone unsaid: “Now they do not get Robert Williams [III], so they get got less of a presence within the paint and we are succesful of assault Al Horford and [Daniel] Theis. So them no longer having Robert Williams is huge.”

“All compatible, man,” Durant mentioned. “That is caffeine doubtlessly speaking. He takes some ahead of the sport. Them two dudes can perform the identical stuff. It ain’t going to be that straight forward, I will expose you that.”

When a reporter asked Durant about their upcoming opponents, he kept it straight forward: Brooklyn has to quit disciplined, play together and play with ardour. In need to speaking about systems the Nets could well narrate in opposition to Tatum, he mentioned that they excellent get to play laborious and “watch what occurs.”

Durant did no longer seem like mad with Brown. The vibe became once reach on, man

“We appreciate our opponents,” Durant mentioned. “No need to chat about, you realize, what we’re gonna perform to them. I excellent don’t love that, you realize? But that is great how Bruce is. , he comes in and he says that. He keeps the identical vitality at some point of the total season, so. 

“But no need to deliver shit love that. Let’s excellent accelerate accessible and hoop.”

It is some distance unclear whether Durant and Brown disagree regarding the Nets’ possibilities of their first-spherical series or merely about what they ought to serene and mustn’t command to the media. It is some distance acceptable, even when, that Brooklyn expressed each self belief and caution after a sport — and a frequent season — that supplied a lot of reasons for every. 

The Nets led 40-20 at the discontinue of the first quarter, then scored eight aspects within the following 10 and a half of minutes. They were up by as many as 22 within the third quarter, most efficient to enable Cleveland to fetch within six within the fourth. 

For Brooklyn, It be superior that facilities Nicolas Claxton and Andre Drummond combined for 29 aspects and 17 rebounds on 13-for-17 taking pictures, nonetheless it undoubtedly’s no longer supreme that guards Seth Curry, Patty Mills and Goran Dragic combined for 9 aspects and one befriend on 3-for-12 taking pictures. The poise that it took to gain off the Cavs could well be extra impressive if the Nets hadn’t squandered a huge lead in opposition to the identical team within the identical arena four days earlier. At least this time they didn’t fall at the befriend of.

Cleveland became once an elite defensive team for a lot of the frequent season, nonetheless its success became once predicated on All-Wide name Jarrett Allen and Rookie of the Yr hopeful Evan Mobley locking down the paint. The version of the Cavs that Brooklyn beat at Barclays Middle became once no longer virtually about as stifling, and the Celtics are about as stifling as it gets. Boston is some distance superior offensively, too. If the Nets wished 42 minutes apiece from Durant and Kyrie Irving to outlive on Tuesday, what’s it going to hold to compete with the Celtics on Sunday? 

Durant is acceptable: It gained’t be straight forward. Brown is moreover compatible: It might maybe most likely well well be much extra difficult if Boston were beginning the series with a wholesome Williams. Your mileage could well honest fluctuate on excellent how inclined Horford and Theis are defensively, nonetheless neither of them can shroud ground, block photography or select lobs the identical way that Williams does. For months, the Celtics’ defense regarded virtually about flawless with Williams on the ground; now there are no longer lower than just a few stress aspects for Brooklyn to skedaddle at. 

Cleveland played what Nets coach Steve Nash described as an “crude” form of defense. It stayed linked to Curry and Mills, fully sold out in opposition to Brown, Claxton, Drummond and Kessler Edwards and despatched extra defenders at Durant and Irving. 

“At instances, we did it mountainous and punished them,” Nash mentioned, pointing to Brown’s 18-point, 9-rebound, eight-befriend performance and the bigs’ effectivity. “Moved the ball, played well caught to our principles for a prolonged stretch to fetch us that 20-point lead.” Nash then acknowledged that they “didn’t play our supreme basketball after that.” 

Brown noteworthy that he “flirted with a triple-double” all over again — closing Friday, he had 18 aspects, eight assists and 10 rebounds in opposition to the Cavs — and laughed. “I’m excellent making the supreme play, that is all,” he mentioned. The game is easy for him when the defense is leaving him originate, packing the paint and allowing him to select out the ball with an earnings. Brown chalked up Cleveland’s comeback to Brooklyn’s “careless passes” and mentioned that he “wasn’t too skittish about it.”

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Irving made his first 12 photography and carried out with 34 aspects on 12-for-15 taking pictures, plus 12 assists. Durant had 25 aspects on 9-for-16 taking pictures and 11 assists. Barely a lot of these were tricky looks, some over extra than one defenders, and the Nets would make a selection no longer to rely upon their superstars bailing them out. Their potential to take care of out so, even when, is why Brooklyn ought to serene serene inspire a wholesome amount of grief. Although Boston’s switching shuts down a lot of the Nets’ magnificent stuff, this might occasionally get to tackle Durant and Irving in isolation. After they’re hitting contested photography over fully extended arms, there is never the least bit times much anyone can perform.

On the one hand, Brooklyn gained its closing four frequent-season video games, took care of business within the play-in and could well be getting Ben Simmons befriend at some point within the first spherical. On the opposite hand, Simmons hasn’t played all season, Curry is playing on an injured ankle and, with the postseason upon us, Nash is serene speaking about building cohesion and learning systems to play together. 

Boston, meanwhile knows precisely what its identity is and what the Nets try to take care of out. Its coach, Ime Udoka, became once on Nash’s group of workers closing season.

“It is some distance going to be a mountainous field for us,” Nash mentioned. “For a brand unique crew to accelerate and play a team love that, that is terrific at each ends, it be going to be one thing that confidently brings out the suitable in us.”

 And the Celtics don’t get Williams. That is huge.

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