The Nets‘ Big 3, highlighted by a bounce-back performance from Kyrie Irving, combined for 104 points and fueled a franchise playoff record point total via a 141-126 win over the Celtics Sunday at TD Garden in Boston.
Five things to know from Sunday’s game
1. After struggling in Friday’s 125-119 Game 2 loss, to the delight of a raucous Celtics crowd, Irving silenced Boston’s full-capacity 17,000 on hand. Irving scored 23 of his 39 points in the first half. He posted an 11-for-24 shooting effort, making all 11 free throws while grabbing 11 rebounds in 41 minutes. The Nets took a double-digit lead for the first time on an Irving triple with 6:19 left in the second quarter, taking a 54-44 advantage and essentially never looking back from there. When the Nets get Irving going in their offense, they tap into a different level.
2. Kevin Durant notched his third 30-point outing, pacing the Nets with a game-high 42 on 14-of-20 shooting. Like Irving, Durant also got to the free-throw line and went a perfect 11 for 11. Durant added four rebounds, five assists and two blocks in 40 minutes. Durant and Irving headlined a near-perfect 29 of 30 free throws made by the Nets.
3. As Irving and Durant took over offensively, James Harden naturally fell back into distributor mode, giving the Nets a double-double effort on 23 points and career-high 18 assists in 37 minutes. Harden was 8 of 12 from the field and racked up the second-most assists in a Nets playoff game, the career-high 18 nearly tying a 19-dime performance by Jason Kidd (April 26, 2007).
4. Fresh off a 50-point performance the other day, Jayson Tatum still got his but he could not keep up with a blow-for-blow rate that the Nets’ offense, led by Irving and Durant, produced at. Tatum managed 40 points on 10-of-22 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists in 40 minutes, but the Nets limited a few others around him. Marcus Smart added 16 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
5. Beyond the Big 3, a timely effort from the Nets’ supporting cast made a difference. Joe Harris dropped 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including a 4-for-5 clip from beyond the arc, with four rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes. Bruce Brown added 14 points and seven rebounds in 24 bench minutes. Albeit in a small sample size with eight minutes off the bench, Nicolas Claxton came to play, too, blocking four shots.
An opportunity for the Nets to close out the Celtics comes with Game 5 Tuesday, a 7:30 p.m. tip-off at Barclays Center.