The Boston Celtics are no joke.
After trailing by as many at 17 points late in the first half, the Celtics turned up the intensity both defensively and offensively to turn that double digit deficit into a 114-107 win over the Brooklyn Nets in Game 2 to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference first round series.
Not only did they turn up the defensively intensity led by the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, but they also got contributions offensively from bench players like Daniel Theis, Grant Williams, and Payton Pritchard, who scored key baskets in the team’s late fourth quarter burst on the offensive side.
The Boston Celtics are simply playing with more heart
In all, the Celtics did it with heart. While the Nets big stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were bricking shots down the stretch and looking fatigued, it was Boston’s big two who rose to the occasion with the game on the line.
Although Brown and Tatum didn’t have big scoring nights, but they did other things on the court to help the team win. In simple words, they just showed something that can’t be measured by analytics. They showed heart and a refusal to let their team lose.
The great 98.5 The Sports Hub radio talk show co-host Tony Massarotti had the tweet of the night in summing up Boston’s great effort.
While the Celtics will be taking a 2-0 lead back to Brooklyn, the talk will be the lack of heart shown by both Durant and Irving. Was it a lack of heart or was it the Celtics’ defense that took the scoring studs out of their offensive games? Durant, though he put up 27 points, was 4-for-17 from the field. Irving scored just 10 point on 4-for-13 shooting.
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Credit Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka and the players for stepping up and sticking to the game plan to make Durant work for his shots.
"“We want to have bodies on him at all times, taking up the airspace where you can’t get too comfortable,” Udoka said following the game, via NBC Sports Boston. “Try to speed him up a little bit and throw some different looks at him. That’s what it’s going to take against a high-level scorer like him.“Trying to wear him down, I think it takes the effort of everybody switching onto him, knowing their game plan, and getting inside the 3-point line and making him take those tough contested pull-up twos.”"
Can the Celtics keep Durant uncomfortable? Well, it is hard to keep the best player in the world down for too long. On the flip side, the Nets haven’t seen the best of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown either although their heart and competitive nature left its mark on Game 1 and Game 2.
This Boston Celtics team is simply different and it’s beyond the analytics.