The Brooklyn Nets kicked off their playoff run with a Game 1 victory over the Boston Celtics on Saturday night. Game 1 vs. the Celtics also marked the much-anticipated playoff debut of the Nets three-headed monster of James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving after only playing eight games together during the regular season.
The Nets ‘Big 3’ did not disappoint as they combined for 82 points and cruised to a 104-93 victory over the Celtics. The offense of Harden, Irving, and Durant may be what makes the highlight reels Sunday morning, but ultimately the Nets defense is what won them the contest as they were able to shut down one of the Celtics brightest stars.
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James Harden Expects Big Game 2 From Jayson Tatum
Coming into the matchup with Boston, everyone knew that Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum would command the bulk of the Nets’ defensive attention. Especially with Boston’s star forward Jaylen Brown being out for the series. Brooklyn was able to hold Tatum to just a 6-20 shooting night and did not let him register a single point from the field in the 4th quarter. Despite an impressive defensive effort against one of the NBA’s brightest young stars, Harden does not expect a repeat performance from Tatum in Game 2.
“We all know how great of a scorer JT is and we just try to knock him off his spots a little bit, be physical with him, contest his shots and just show bodies,” Harden told reporters after the Nets Game 1 win via SNY. “You know I think he likes the ball to dance on the wings and that post-game he’s pretty efficient so wanted to show him bodies, contest his shots, and if the shot goes up gang rebound. I think everybody that had a crack at him did a solid job you know 6-20 but we can’t be comfortable [because] he’s going to be better in Game 2 and we will too.”
James Harden doesn’t expect another 6-20 shooting game from Jayson Tatum in Game 2:
“He’s going to be better in Game 2, and we will too” pic.twitter.com/gf2QPE3vCv
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) May 23, 2021
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Kevin Durant Recognizes the Talent in Tatum
Despite a rough shooting night from the two-time All-Star, Tatum still led the Celtics in scoring with 22 points to go along with, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists. KD will likely continue to be the primary defender on Tatum for the remainder of this series. Durant understands that there will be times where Tatum catches fire offensively and hits tough shots. At that point, he will have to just tip his cap to Tatum and move on to the next play.
“He missed a couple that he can make for sure, but I thought we did a good job of making him shoot tough ones and being up there on the catch. He’s such a talented player that we can’t get discouraged when he makes those shots over us,” said Durant of Tatum per NetsDaily. “He made a couple of tough threes, tough fades, and we were able to take that storm and keep pushing through and try to be physical with him and everybody else.”
It is only one game, but if Brooklyn can continue to hold Tatum in check as they did in Game 1, the Nets’ first-round against the Celtics could end up being a short series.
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