Nets Move Back Into First With Season Sweep of Celtics


Final: 04/23/2021

W 109 104

The Nets reigned supreme in the battle of two shorthanded teams.

Brooklyn pulled ahead by as many as 17 in a 109-104 victory over the Celtics on Friday. Joe Harris led five Nets in double figures as the team moves a half-game above the Sixers for first place in the East. 

The Celtics cut the Nets’ lead to as little as three in the fourth quarter thanks to an 11-0 Boston run. Luckily for the Nets, Harris answered with a three-pointer and the defense forced stops and turnovers down the stretch to maintain the lead and hold on for the win.

The Nets defined this game with their energy and defense as they made the most of their opportunities. Brooklyn recorded an incredible 32-0 advantage in fastbreak points, 20 of which were scored off Boston’s 19 turnovers.

It was difficult to tell which team would be up to the task after each team shot below 35% in the first quarter. The Nets used the second quarter to break out as they poured in 39 points heading into halftime.

Though the Celtics out-scored the Nets 31-21 in the fourth quarter, Brooklyn grew their lead as large as 17 points as the team shot 43% from the field and 11-of-32 from three. It was another good night of sharing the ball as the Nets recorded 26 assists on 37 field goals. 

Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart combined for 57 points to keep the Celtics competitive but the team could not make game-changing plays down the stretch. Payton Pritchard also added 22 points off the bench and tried to make things interesting with a late three-pointer that cut Brooklyn’s lead back to three.

New 10-day signee Mike James made his debut for Brooklyn and operated well off the bench, growing more comfortable as the game progressed and recording a +17 plus/minus. DeAndre Jordan also had a strong performance in the starting lineup with a near double-double. 

No Kevin Durant, no James Harden — and the Nets find themselves at No. 1 in the East while finding help across the lineup. With Durant potentially returning on Sunday, Brooklyn continues to get the job done with the thinnest of lineups.

Next up: A tough matchup against the Suns on Sunday. 

Joe Harris


The stats: 20 PT, 6-12 FG, 4-7 3PT, 4-4 FT, 4 REB, 3 AST, 1 BLK, 25 MIN

Things we love to see: Joe Harris as the leading scorer. 

Joe had a quiet first half but helped build the Nets’ lead in the second half. Kyrie found Joe for back-to-back threes amid his 8-0 run at the end of the third quarter that grew the lead to 16. 

Not to mention, Joe answered the Cetlics’ fourth-quarter push with a three-pointer to immediately give Brooklyn some room to work with. We always have known Joe is a big-time shot-maker, and it was great to see him get his looks and be aggressive at key moments against Boston.

Jeff Green


The stats: 19 PTS, 5-11 FG, 3-5 3PT, 6-6 FT, 2 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 35 MIN

Uncle. Jeff.

Of course he brought the dunks, but Jeff made the Celtics work all over the court. Offensively, Uncle Jeff stretched the floor, buried three three-pointers and remained aggressive.

Then defensively, Jeff played a hand in Brooklyn’s 32 fastbreak points by getting into passing lanes, forcing two steals and adding a block. Jeff Green has been a reliable contributor for Brooklyn, and he took things up a notch on Friday.

Bruce Brown


The stats: 15 PTS, 7-8 FG, 1-2 3PT, 0-2 FT, 8 REB, 1 AST, 27 MIN

Bruce Brown was a momentum-changer. 

Both teams had sloppy starts, but it was Bruce Brown that emerged with the hustle in the second quarter with some buckets. He applied the pressure throughout the night as he nearly tallied a double-double off the bench.

Add in the eye-popping dunks, and Bruce had himself one game-changing night. Never doubt what Brown can do for you. 

Kyrie Irving


The stats: 15 PTS, 4-19 FG, 0-6 3PT, 7-7 FT, 9 REB, 11 AST, 4 STL, 2 BLK, 5 TO, 34 MIN

Kyrie was cold from the field — but had one of his best defensive performances of the season.

It was clearly not Kyrie’s night from the field, especially as he tried to bury some buckets when it was close down the stretch. Still, that did not stop him from facilitating and nearly recording a triple-double in 34 minutes.

Though he had five turnovers, Kyrie did a good job at finding the hot hand while making game-saving plays on defense. His four steals and two blocks show just how effective he can be on the defensive end if he puts in the effort, as Steve Nash pointed out after the game.

Blake Griffin


The stats: 13 PTS, 5-11 FG, 1-5 3PT, 2-2 FT, 5 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO, 23 MIN

Blake was back on track against the Celtics on Friday.

Blake was active and had a great feel defensively, drawing another two charges to bring his league-leading number up to 21. The three-point shot was not there, but he always brings the follow-up effort and helped fuel the Nets on the fastbreak.

Blake had a team-high +20 off the bench in just 23 minutes, again showing the value of his impact. He is not afraid to do the gritty things needed to win, and his importance to the team grows with each game.