Nets vs. Cavaliers score, takeaways: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant dominate as Brooklyn clinches No. 7 seed

The NBA's play-in tournament is a survive-and-advance situation, and on Tuesday night, the Brooklyn Nets survived the Cleveland Cavaliers, 115-108, to advance to the playoffs as the East's No. 7 seed, which earns them a first-round date with the No. 2 Boston Celtics. 

Here are five takeaways from Brooklyn's win.

1. What can Brooklyn take from this victory? 

Well, it turns out they're a pretty formidable team when Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant combine for 59 points on 21-of-31 shooting, including 4-of-7 from 3. Irving made his first 12 shots, which would be a postseason record if the play-in counted as a real playoff game, which is doesn't. He finished the first half with this madness:

That's the kind of stuff Irving was pulling off all night. He was not piling up buckets on easy looks. These were largely tough shots that only a few players in the world, like his teammate Durant, make look easy. 

Durant and Irving finished with 19 points on 10-of-10 shooting in the first quarter to put Cleveland in the hole from which it couldn't crawl out. Durant hit a lull through parts of the second and third quarters, but he closed strong with two clutch jumpers as Cleveland had cut the lead as low as five. Durant was also tremendous defensively, blocking three shots and altering a handful of others.

2. What about when Durant/Irving sit?

This was a problem on Tuesday. When Durant took his first rest of the game at the conclusion of the first quarter, the Nets scored two, yes two, points over a the first four minutes, 23 seconds of the second quarter before Durant came back. 

By that time, even with Kyrie still in the game, Brooklyn's momentum had disappeared, and the next thing you knew the Nets had scored just eight points through the first nine-plus minutes of the second quarter. 

Irving and Durant both played 42 minutes on Tuesday, and the Nets needed every one of them. Steve Nash doesn't have a choice: he's going to have to play Durant and Irving monster minutes for as long as this team is alive. And even then, what does it say that Brooklyn, with its two stars playing huge minutes and pretty close to perfect as a combo, had to go to the wire to beat a Cleveland team that was playing without Jarrett Allen? 

3. Brooklyn's defense was encouraging

It wasn't just Durant defending the rim; Nic Claxton was in there with five blocks. Everyone was committed to rotating and recovering and contesting shots all over the court; even non-shot blockers were making shots difficult in the paint. The Cavs are a limited team offensively, and they had success in transition and early offense, but when Brooklyn got back and set, it put forth a relatively good defensive effort. 

Of course, the Celtics pose much bigger problems with multiple big-time scorers and a stable of solid creators, to say nothing of Boston's switching defense that can throw multiple bodies at Durant and Irving. 

Cleveland got a good amount of point-blank layups and dunks off over-the-top passes in the half-court as Brooklyn found itself out-sized in the paint. When Andre Drummond is out or switched off, Al Horford and Daniel Theis will look to take advantage of similar real estate. For the Nets, this is the best time to catch the Celtics as Robert Williams likely won't play in the series, or else Boston would be even bigger. 

4. Nets need more from Seth Curry

Curry was held scoreless in 34 minutes. He took just four shots. He's dealing with a bum ankle, but there's not really much more to be said. The Nets obviously need more from him. Boston is going to anticipate Bruce Brown's short rolls and paint cuts, and Curry waiting in the corner for secondary-assist 3s can be a massive weapon for Brooklyn. Don't bet on Curry staying cold. He's one of the best shooters in the world. 

5. Cavs get a second crack

Cleveland isn't done yet. It will play the winner of Wednesday's Atlanta/Charlotte play-in game, and whoever the Cavs get, they'll get them at home. Darius Garland and Evan Mobley were superb against Brooklyn; Garland went for 34 points and Mobley was 9-for-13 from the field. Garland took it right at Brooklyn, and the Cavs looked much better when they attacked early rather than getting late in the shot clock. When that happens, Garland is the only guy who can reliably create a decent look. It feels like the flame has burned out on this Cavs season, which started out so fun and promising. Losing Jarrett Allen and Ricky Rubio has been a killer. But Atlanta and Charlotte are obviously beatable. We'll see what kind of resolve Cleveland can muster on Friday. 

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@BrooklynNets via Twitter
April 13, 2022, 2:22 AM
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@cavs via Twitter
April 13, 2022, 2:16 AM
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@cavs via Twitter
April 13, 2022, 1:51 AM
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@cavs via Twitter
April 13, 2022, 1:31 AM
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That worthless 3 by Rondo at the buzzer woulda pushed the Over

April 13, 2022, 1:30 AM
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"We want Boston" chants starting

April 13, 2022, 1:26 AM
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Cavs plus 9.5 looking a lot better after that Garland 3

April 13, 2022, 1:26 AM
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Nets about to seal a first-round date with Boston

April 13, 2022, 1:24 AM
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@BrooklynNets via Twitter
April 13, 2022, 1:23 AM
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Durant back to back jumpers to stretch Nets lead back to 10. Those are almost automatic when it gets down to clutch time, especially when he's been missing. Has an incredible ability to clear his head in the big moments

April 13, 2022, 1:15 AM
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@BrooklynNets via Twitter
April 13, 2022, 1:15 AM
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Nets need a lot more from Seth Curry moving forward

April 13, 2022, 1:14 AM
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Curry's playing on a bum ankle and he's 0-4 from deep

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what a lead pass from Garland to Markkanen for the slam and Cleveland has it down to 6

April 13, 2022, 1:12 AM
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Awesome patience by Brown, too! Came out and Nashed it, found KD for the DHO

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terrific patience by Durant there to keep working through progressions and Nets end up with Brown roll and lob dunk to Claxton on late action

April 13, 2022, 1:10 AM
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Five fouls on Kyrie

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@BrooklynNets via Twitter
April 13, 2022, 1:10 AM
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good quick shot from Garland. Keep playing in early offense if you"re the Cavs

April 13, 2022, 1:09 AM
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Huge 3 from Durant to take Brooklyn's lead back to nine, That was really big

April 13, 2022, 1:04 AM
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