The Nets did as they have been alleged to do at Barclays Center Tuesday evening: they throttled the Celtics within the fourth quarter and walked away with a 123-109 win, wrapping up their first-round best-of-seven with a gentleman’s sweep, 5 video games. Next come the Bucks, which means the varsity is on tap. This will be fun.
But in its personal approach, this Nets-Celtics sequence was enjoyable for Brooklyn, too. In its personal approach, in truth it proceeded alongside a perfect pathway and for 3 distinct causes:
- The Big Three obtained 5.
You know the mantra: heading into this sequence James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving had solely performed eight video games with one another. How would that translate as soon as the klieg lights have been turned up an additional notch for the playoffs?
Well, right here’s one phrase for it: extraordinary.
Game 5 wasn’t the bold-faced tour-de-force that Game 4 in Boston was, when Durant (42), Irving (39) and Harden (23) mixed for a wide ranging 104 of the group’s 141 factors. But it was nonetheless exceptional, not solely the triple double from Harden (34/10/10) and the back-to-back-to-back 3s from the identical spot on the ground, all three splashed in breaking the sport open for good within the fourth, however one thing more delicate.
They simply look … proper.
They look as they’re alleged to look. It’s 13 video games now and never eight, however we’ll let Harden’s evaluate stand for our personal: “How do you think we looked?” The Beard mentioned with amusing.
- ‘Remember thou art mortal’
Ah, sure, from historical Rome, the whisperer who would observe the good conflict heroes of the time and remind them to not get too full of themselves, lest they undergo from a crippling case of hubris and, properly, die on the battlefield.
The stakes aren’t fairly that prime for the Nets.
But they’re nonetheless comparatively excessive. And, look: the Celtics have been a shadow of themselves on this sequence. Jaylen Brown missed the entire sequence with a wrist damage. Kemba Walker missed the final two video games with a sore knee. Robert Williams did as properly, with a bum foot. This may have been a one-sided slog, which might have served little function.
Instead, the Celtics gained Game 3 in Boston, which definitely obtained the Nets’ consideration. Boston performed terrific for 3 ½ quarters of Game 1, and hung round till the tip of Game 5 earlier than the Nets despatched them on their approach. Both instances the Nets needed to determine it out. Both instances they did. That will solely assist them as they prepare for Giannis & Friends.
“We’re not proclaiming this was anything to celebrate,” Nets coach Steve Nash mentioned. “We did the job. We spent time preparing, competing, playing.”
And, now, advancing. All in all, 10 days very properly spent.
- They are, largely, upright.
Yes, they misplaced Jeff Green early within the sequence, although he’s anticipated again quickly.
But look across the league.
Look at Philadelphia, the place Joel Embiid’s MRI was awaited breathlessly, and the place it’s unlikely he’ll play Wednesday in Game 5 in opposition to the Wizards. Look at Milwaukee, which misplaced a key contributor in Donte DiVincenzo.
Look on the Lakers, who misplaced Anthony Davis for Game 4 and Game 5 of their sequence in opposition to the Suns, and who’re perpetually bracing themselves each time LeBron James absorbs contact. Look at Denver, which misplaced Jamal Murray earlier than the playoffs even began. Look at Phoenix, the place Chris Paul fights by means of the ache however is scuffling nonetheless.
Heck, take a look at the Knicks and marvel: wouldn’t a wholesome Mitchell Robinson have been useful in opposition to the Hawks the final week and a half?
Health was the Nets’ No. 1 concern getting into these playoffs, and it’ll stay so for so long as they’re within the playoffs. Losing Green was not an excellent factor. But they’re 1 / 4 of the way in which by means of what they hope can be a four-round playoff run, and it’s unattainable not to be ok with how they emerged from it.
“The Big 3 was sensational,” Nash mentioned, “but it really takes a team effort.”
So far, so good. Onward.