The NBA playoffs are like on-court chess — transfer and countermove, adjusting to the changes.
The excellent news for the Nets is that they have extra items on the board than Boston, and a head begin after winning Saturday night’s Game 1 opening gambit. But Kyrie Irving spent sufficient time starring for these identical Celtics that he is aware of higher than to take anything for granted — or take his foot off the fuel for Tuesday’s Game 2.
“We just want to carry our even-keeled attitude, mentality — don’t get too high or too low. It’s a lot of days in-between the next time we play,” Irving mentioned. “We know that this good Celtics team is going to make adjustments. We’ve just got to be prepared. We’ve got to stay balanced this series. We know there are a lot of ups and downs in a series, so you just can’t take any moment for granted.”
The Nets’ veterans have been preaching as a lot down the stretch in Game 1, after they’d seen a nine-point third-quarter cushion shrivel to 82-79 with 7:27 left.
That’s when Irving — who performed two tumultuous years in Boston earlier than bolting for Brooklyn — took over and dominated his outdated crew. The All-Star guard, who is aware of the pluck of the Irish all too nicely, led a 17-3 run to place the Celtics away. He had 11 factors, three rebounds and shot 4 of 5 in the spurt.
“We needed a little separation, just to settle in for the rest of the game,” Irving mentioned. “Fourth quarter, we’ve had the tendency of taking our foot off the fuel pedal, of stopping attacking the rim or settling for leap pictures or simply not swinging the ball round and making simple performs for each other.
“We have All-World one-on-one players, but we make it easy when teams can just load up and our one-on-one game isn’t working. You see anything can happen at the end of the game. Kemba [Walker] hits two big 3s, we get a flagrant foul. Anything can happen, especially against the Celtics. That lucky Irishman is always around the Celtics, so we’ve just got to be aware of anything against the Celtics.”
There have been a bunch of issues that the Nets weren’t prepared for in Game 1 that they’ll have to pay attention to by Tuesday’s Game 2.
Boston gave them matches defensively, partly via daunting rim safety from Robert Williams III (who had 9 blocks) and partly via catching them off guard by springing the zone sooner than anticipated.
The Nets fell behind 32-20 in the second quarter, lacking their first 10 from 3-point vary.
“We just didn’t make shots. I’m sure if we made shots it would have been a different conversation,” James Harden mentioned. “But we caught with it. They tried to throw just a little zone in there, which we anticipated them to do in Game 2.
“We’ve just got to watch some film, see what we can get better at, see how we can get better, easier looks offensively. And then defensively we’ve got to stay physical and make sure we rebound the basketball.”
They may use extra on offense from Landry Shamet, who went scoreless. And extra importantly, want extra defensively from Blake Griffin. Brad Stevens’ Celtics mercilessly went at Griffin, recognizing the Nets’ switch-happy scheme and utilizing pick-and-rolls to get the large man into isolation conditions on the perimeter.
Nets coach Steve Nash correctly acknowledged that, and pulled him with 4:36 left in the third for Jeff Green. Griffin didn’t play once more, with Green and Nic Claxton getting the middle minutes down the stretch.
Nash has nowhere close to Stevens’ expertise, however has the sting of a 1-0 collection lead and a greater roster. Who makes the higher changes in Game 2?
“We’re going to have to go down the court and do better than scoring 93 or 94 points; it’s just not going to be enough,” Stevens mentioned Sunday. (*2*)