The Nets started out strong but could not slow down Jayson Tatum, falling to the Boston Celtics 125-119 in Game 3.
Here are some key takeaways …
– The Nets got off to a red-hot shooting start, thanks in part to James Harden who scored 10 points within the first few minutes. Joe Harris also hit an early pair of threes, and the Nets started 7-of-8 from the floor to take a 19-4 lead right out of the gates.
But the Celtics answered the Nets’ early offense with a huge run of their own to end the quarter. Led by Tatum (13 points) and Marcus Smart (11 points), Boston ended the first quarter on a 29-13 run, scoring the final 10 points before the buzzer to take a 33-32 lead into the second.
– Harris had his shot going early, but he picked up his third foul with just under eight minutes to go in the half, forcing him to the bench. Meanwhile, the Celtics continued to pick apart the Nets’ defense in the second, with Tatum continuing to lead the way. Boston shot 49.0 percent from the field in the first half, taking a 61-57 lead into the break.
Meanwhile for Brooklyn, Kevin Durant and Harden each had 17 points. And while so much was made of Kyrie Irving’s return to Boston, Irving was just 1-of-5 for two points in the first half.
– Durant and Harden continued to pace the Nets to start the third. Durant hit a couple of early threes, with the second cutting the Celtics lead to just one point.
But Tatum continued to prove he was too much for the Nets to handle. By the end of the third, Tatum was up to 40 points on 13-of-23 shooting, as Boston took a 96-84 lead into the final quarter.
– The Celtics looked to pull away in the fourth, as a Tristan Thompson putback slam gave Boston a 103-87 lead in the early minutes. The Nets battled back, though, thanks to a quick seven points from Harden (including a four-point play) and a three from Irving to make it a 105-97 Boston lead.
Irving later hit a corner three to bring Brooklyn back within seven with six minutes to go. The teams went back and forth, but Boston maintained their seven-point lead into the final minute. Irving hit a pair of free throws to cut it to five, but Tatum hit a pull-up jumper over Durant with 40 seconds left to give him 50 points on the night.
– Harden finished with 41 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds, while Durant went for 39 with nine rebounds. Irving finished with 16 points, but was just 6-of-17 from the floor.
Game 4 from Boston is set for Sunday at 7:00 p.m.