The Brooklyn Nets jumped all over the Boston Celtics right out of the gate in Game 2, cruising to a 130-108 win to take a 2-0 series lead. The series now shifts to Boston on Friday, and the Celtics are officially in desperation mode. Over 93 percent of teams that go down 2-0 in a best-of-seven series go on to lose the series.
Here are five takeaways from Brooklyn's win on Tuesday.
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1. Big 3 balance
In Game 1, Brooklyn's Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving took eight 3-pointers each. In Game 2, they took 12 total shots each. The balance these guys are showing, the feel for playing in harmony, is incredible when you consider they only suited up for eight total games together during the regular season.
On Tuesday, Durant led the way with 26 points, while Harden finished with 20 and Irving 15. They shot a collective 20-for-36 from the field, including 7-of-13 from beyond the arc and 14-for-14 from the free-throw line. Because the stars are playing such an efficient, balanced brand of offense, the Nets were able to get everyone involved in Game 2 to the tune of 31 team assists. When you have this kind of individual scoring and you're still racking up 30-plus assists, you're really onto something.
2. 3-point disparity
After shooting just 8-for-34 (23 percent) from 3-point range as a team in Game 1, the Nets went 17-for-38 (44 percent) from downtown in Game 2. All told, the Nets outscored Boston by 15 from the arc, flipping the script on Game 1, when the Celtics were plus-9 from deep. The Nets have matchup advantages all over the court. The Celtics simply can't survive if they're not making up ground from the 3-point line, let alone if they're losing that battle decidedly.
Durant, Harden and Irving -- after shooting a collective 5-for-24 from 3 in Game 1 -- combined to go a more judicious 7-for-11 from deep on Tuesday. Harden was selective with his stepbacks, while all three stars were on the lookout for Joe Harris, who finished 7-for-10 from deep for a career playoff-high 25 points.
Speaking of ...
3. Joe Harris is a ridiculous luxury
Through the first seven minutes on Tuesday, Harris was 4-for-4 from beyond the arc for 16 points. He finished the first half 5-for-7 from deep for 22 points in 15 minutes. He was a plus-29 for the game.
Harris would be a fantastic shooter and player on any team, but with all the attention that Durant, Harden and Irving command, he's borderline unfair on the Nets. No shooter who hit 47.5 percent of his 3s in the regular season (as Harris did on over six attempts per game) should get the number of open looks that Harris gets, but what other choice does Boston, or any other defense for that matter, have?
Harris found his looks in a variety of ways. In transition:
Off beautiful ball swings:
Off the dribble:
Trying to keep up with Brooklyn's stars is impossible enough. If somehow you get lucky and they hit a cold streak, as they did in Game 1, you have Harris, one of the best shooters in the world, standing out there raining 3-pointers. Good luck.
4. Another 20-point deficit for Boston
The Celtics fell behind by 20 or more points 13 times in the regular season. They lost 12 of those games. In Game 2, Boston hit its first 20-point deficit with just over 10 minutes to play in the second quarter (46-26) and trailed by as many as 33 in the third quarter.
This is pretty simple: The Celtics are not good enough to get down big against Brooklyn and expect to get back in the game, especially with the way the Nets are suddenly playing on the defensive end.
5. Jayson Tatum's health in question
Tatum left Game 2 after being poked in the eye in the third quarter. He tried to come back out but, as Brad Stevens detailed after the game, he was having trouble adjusting to the light in the arena. Stevens said Tatum's eye looked "pretty red, pretty swollen" but did not give an update as to whether Tatum who's also dealing with a groin injury, will be able to go in Game 3.
Obviously, the Celtics need Tatum to do more than play; they need him to play like a superstar if they want to have a chance to get back in this series. Tatum finished Game 2 with nine points on 3-of-12 shooting. Suffice it to say, that's not going to get it done.
Tatum is a brilliant one-on-one player, but in the early going the Celtics, as they often do, were falling into the trap of isolating too much. At one point they had just one assist to nine turnovers. With basically no ball movement, It was allowing the Nets to hone in on Tatum, loading multiple defenders into his space and vision as pretty much every shot became contested.