Boston Celtics: 3 keys to beating the Brooklyn Nets in the first round

Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /
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Boston Celtics
Kevin Durant #7 high-fives Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Boston Celtics key No. 2: Slow down Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving when you can

There’s no debating that Durant and Irving are one of the most dangerous offensive duos in the league right now. Add in the potential playmaking from Simmons, and Brooklyn’s offense is good to go. Boston’s defense has been stifling all season long, but they are going to face their biggest test of the season against Brooklyn.

The key is going to be slowing down either Durant or Irving for stretches of the game. There may be a game or two where either guy goes cold, because it’s basketball, it happens. But for the most part, you should generally expect the two of them to combine for at least 50 points a game.

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The thing is that once you get past Durant and Irving, Brooklyn doesn’t have a ton of offensive depth that will really scare you. They have solid secondary players like Seth Curry, Patty Mills, and Bruce Brown, but you can’t count on them to always give you 10+ points. If you limit either Durant or Irving, even for a small stretch of like five minutes, that might be what it takes to contain Brooklyn’s offense enough to the point where you can squeak out a win.

As mentioned before, it also helps how the Celtics defense is very good. Not having Robert Williams hurts, but they are well equipped to slow down Irving and Durant. Marcus Smart and Derrick White will take turns guarding Irving, with Tatum and Jaylen Brown probably split their time guarding Durant, while possibly even getting some help down low from their bigs.

It’s not going to be pretty, but limiting these guys scoring is the key on the defensive side of things. You obviously can’t ignore their secondary guys, but there are going to be times where doubling Durant or Irving is more effective than leaving a guy in the corner with Bruce Brown. If you can slow down either guy, both of who are so important to the Nets offense, for a portion of the game, Boston’s offense should be good enough to out score Brooklyn and win the series.