The Nets just didn’t seem to have an answer and now their season is on the brink.
Brooklyn fell to the Boston Celtics 109-103 in Game 3 at Barclays Center on Saturday night. It puts the Nets down 0-3 in their first-round series and gives the Celtics a chance to close things out on Monday in Game 4.
No NBA team has ever overcome a 0-3 series deficit. And with the way the Nets have played against the Celtics, they face a very tough road ahead.
Even on Saturday when it looked as though the Nets were chipping away at the Celtics’ lead, Boston always managed to answer right back to suck any of the momentum right out of the arena. Patty Mills drilled a late third quarter three to pull the Nets within three of the Celtics, but Marcus Smart and Boston responded with six straight points to close the third and build back their lead.
It was a similar scenario in the fourth as Brooklyn would hit a big basket, Boston answered right back. Jaylen Brown, who finished the night 23 points, and Jayson Tatum, who scored a game-high 39 points, responded immediately to each Brooklyn shot.
The Nets struggled with the little details in their game yet again as well. Brooklyn turned over the ball 21 times for 37 points, which included five turnovers by Kevin Durant. The Nets were outscored in fastbreak points 25-9 and points in the paint 50-42.
The Nets’ two biggest stars were held to 16 points each, with Durant shooting 6-of-11 and Irving held to just 6-of-17 shooting. It was the roleplayers on Brooklyn that stepped up to lead the charge in the loss as Bruce Brown scored a team-high 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field and 2-of-7 from three.
Nic Claxton scored 13 points and Patty Mills had 12 and shot 4-of-5 from three-point range.
Blake Griffin made a surprise appearance in the third quarter when he checked in with 1:27 left in the period to thunderous applause. He scored eight points in his first appearance since April 2.
The Nets struggled with the little details in their game yet again as well. Brooklyn turned over the ball 21 times for 37 points, which included five turnovers by Durant. The Nets were outscored in fastbreak points 25-9 and points in the paint 50-42.
The Nets got off to another quick start on Saturday night and opened up a 12-5 advantage just over four minutes into the game, with Brown scoring Brooklyn’s first seven points. However, Boston quickly responded with an 8-0 run to take a 13-12 lead with 6:30 left in the first quarter.
Brooklyn and Boston spent the next few minutes trading baskets and the lead until the Celtics scored seven straight points to give themselves a six-point cushion with 3:06 left in the quarter. The Nets managed to pull within three after a three-point shot by Brown fell with 2:47 on the clock and they ended the period down by five after Durant drained a pull-up shot in the closing seconds.
The Celtics managed to put themselves ahead by double digits as Payton Pritchard scored seven points to open the second quarter and give his side a 37-25 lead. It remained that way until the final two minutes of the half when Durant, Claxton and Mills combined to pull the Nets within one, but gave up a finger roll layup to Marcus Smart in the final seconds of the first half and went into the locker room down 53-50.
The Nets came out flatfooted in the third and saw the three-point deficit turn into a 10-point hole. Brooklyn managed to cut that lead back down to two off the combined efforts of Brown, Durant and Irving, who hit a pair of free throws to make it a 60-58 game with 8:06 left in the third.