Irving, Durant Combine for 66 in Christmas Day Victory Over Celtics

A

Final: 12/25/2020

W 123 95

Third-quarter slumps? Brooklyn hasn’t heard of them–at least in 2020-21.

After a meager first half, an explosive 16-point third quarter from Kevin Durant and hot shooting night from Kyrie Irving powered the Nets to a 123-95 victory over the Celtics on Christmas Day. Irving set a record for most points scored by a Net on Christmas Day with a monster 37-point, eight-assist performance at his old home of TD Garden. 

Just another day in the office. 

The Nets were at first greeted with more of a challenge against Boston after a blowout victory over the Warriors on Opening Day. The first half saw sloppy play by both teams, with Brooklyn recording 12 first-half turnovers.

The Nets’ worst quarter came in the second, where they were out-scored 32-25 and fell behind by as many as five points. Though Irving scored 14 points in the quarter, Durant had not seen many looks, carrying nine points into the half.

The second half was night-and-day in Brooklyn’s ball-handling, with the team turning the ball over just once in the third quarter and 15 total for the game. That efficiency was largely due to Durant and Irving, who took the game into their own hands.

Irving ensured the victory was never in question with his hot shooting night, as he and Durant combined to shoot 10-of-14 from three. Brooklyn never let up on their edge, finishing the game with 53.9% shooting from the field and 15-of-30 from three.

Caris LeVert and the bench–on a night where all active players hit the court again–made their presence known with a 38-25 bench-point advantage.

Brooklyn’s defense was solid for a second straight game, despite a shaky second quarter, holding the Celtics to 41 second-half points. The team recorded 10 (!) blocks against Boston, led by Jarrett Allen’s four. The Celtics held the edge in points in the paint, 46-42.

Boston was led by Jaylen Brown, who notched 27 points and eight rebounds. Jayson Tatum followed with 10 points and eight boards.

The Christmas Day result marks a 2-0 start to a season and makes Brooklyn the first team since the 2008-09 Lakers to win each of their first two games of a season by 20+ points. They have shown room to grow, but the Nets are marking their territory early in the East. 

Kyrie Irving

A+

The stats: 37 PTS, 13-21 FG, 7-10 3PM, 4-4 FT, 6 REB, 8 AST, 1 STL, 1 TO, 33 MIN

Kyrie Irving had a quiet second half against the Warriors on Opening Day, but his performance on Friday was anything but.

Irving brought the gift of his shooting to Nets fans, going 7-of-10 from three and an efficient 13-of-21 overall. He was also a large reason why the Nets kept within three of the Celtics at halftime with his 17 first-half points.

Irving’s presence on the court has provided comfort for the Nets, shown in his assist-to-turnover ratio and the pressure he applies to opponents from the first minute. Good luck to Irving’s future defenders–you have been warned. 

Kevin Durant

A+

The stats: 29 PTS, 9-16 FG, 3-4 3PM, 8-9 FT, 4 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 2 TO, 33 MIN

It was just a matter of time as to when Kevin Durant was going to take over. The Celtics learned that the hard way in the third quarter. 

KD scored 16 of his 29 points in the third after a largely quiet first half, giving the Nets a much-needed lift. The team’s efficiency was transformed instantly as Irving revved up his production as well.

On the other side of the court, KD applied good pressure against Tatum while helping break up Boston’s momentum. Nets fans will have to get used to having two players who can reliably take over a game each night–a very good problem to have.

Caris LeVert

B+

The stats: 10 PTS, 5-8 FG, 0-2 3PM, 1 REB, 3 AST, 1 BLK, 7 TO, 19 MIN

Caris LeVert was a bit sloppy while handling the ball, contributing seven giveaways to the team’s 15 total turnovers. Still, he provided the offensive boost Brooklyn needs off the bench.

LeVert found himself getting some more playing time after Spencer Dinwiddie had an injury scare early in the game, but he seemed to settle in as the Nets improved in the second half. The Nets need LeVert to take better care of the ball coming off the bench, but he showed good signs offensively when KD and Irving were off the court. 

Joe Harris

B

The stats: 9 PTS, 3-6 FG, 2-4 3PM, 1-2 FT, 1 REB, 26 MIN

We are used to seeing Joe Harris be more active in rebounding, but it was good to see him contribute where he does best–from distance.

After Friday, Harris now holds the Nets’ franchise record for most consecutive games with a three-pointer with 62. May the record continue to grow this season.

Jarrett Allen

B+

The stats: 9 PTS, 2-3 FG, 5-6 FT, 11 REB, 1 AST, 4 BLK, 1 TO, 21 MIN

Jarrett Allen had his Christmas Day feast in the paint for Brooklyn.

The Fro (which is looking bigger and better than ever) came up big on the offensive glass, grabbing five offensive boards to go along with his four (!) blocks. The world is a better place when the Fro is blocking, rebounding and drawing contact, and for that we are grateful. 

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