The Celtics take 125-119 race-3 thanks to their star’s show. The 80 points paired by Harden and Durant are not enough for the Nets
It seemed over shortly after it started, with Brooklyn dominating and Boston on the ropes as in the first two games. Then Jayson Tatum appeared on the parquet of the TD Garden. “He’s special,” coach Stevens crowns him. Special is not enough to tell the show of the 23-year-old from the Celtics: finished with 50 points, his all-time high in a playoff match. Most importantly, he defeated the NBA black death, despite James Harden and Kevin Durant together putting in 80 points. But Tatum was superior, he helped Boston win 125-119 game-3 and reopen a series that continues on Sunday at the Italian 1, with 17,000 fans expected in the stands. If Tatum is this, if Boston is this, there is a series to see.
Tatum hugs his son Deuce while TD Garden sings “Mvp!”. It is the warrior’s well-deserved rest. He had already scored 50 points in the Play-In against Washington, in another essential game like this. “I had no doubts that we would play it – says Stevens proudly -: we weren’t happy with how race 2 went and we knew we could do better”. Tatum made sure they did – the Nets defense never managed to stop him, not even when they put Durant on him. Not only did Tatum score in every way (including 7 average shots), but he also made sure to turn on his teammates, with his 7 assists yielding another 19 points. “He is much more mature than his age – continues Stevens -. He has unique skills to score, but he also has a vision of the game that allows him to make the right readings on the pitch ”. In addition to Tatum, Boston built his victory on the inexhaustible energy of Marcus Smart, devastating even in attack with his 23 points, and with Tristan Thompson’s overwhelming power under the basket, 19 points and 13 rebounds. Kemba Walker was never able to light up in attack (6 points with 3/14 shooting), but he did everything to be useful. The victory changes the prospects for Boston, which now knows it can play against a team that seemed unplayable in the first two games. The bad news for Stevens is Robert Williams’ injury: sprained left ankle, his race-4 status will be assessed in the next few hours.
“We didn’t play well enough in defense, we conceded 125 points and they put almost 30 in every 40”. Coach Nash focuses on this to justify a defeat that seemed unimaginable after the 19-4 of the first 200 seconds. Instead, his Nets flopped because they never managed to contain Boston. And also because the attack did not work properly. If Harden (41 points and 10 assists) became the third Nets in history with 40 points in a playoff game and Durant added 39, giving the usual idea of offensive omnipotence, the whistling former Kyrie Irving stopped at 16 with 6. / 17 shooting, and the supporting cast so essential to the Nets’ regular season fortunes never managed to bite. “We have never been able to move the ball well – explains Nash -. Harden and Durant, who scored a lot, also did it with isolations that should be our last resort. We can learn a lot from this game, from trying to figure out how to be better. Because they believe it now ”. Durant and Irving are also well aware of it, who repeat in chorus that the problem were many small details that put together ended up favoring Boston, and who are already thinking about the next match: “It will be a challenge, we can’t wait to face it” they tell, while KD rattles off the data of each opponent and the numbers to correct in view of race-4. In his head the new challenge has already begun.
Brooklyn sprints to 19-4 in just over 200 seconds. Stevens calls timeout, and Boston comes out transformed. At the end of the first quarter he has already overtaken at 33-32, before the rest he also touches the +10 (59-49) despite Harden and Durant continue to score. Brooklyn starts the recovery under 61-57, arrives at 75-75 in the partial half but then sinks when Tatum touches the phenomenon level, in a third period with 20 good points to make Boston escape up to 96-79 at 57 ”from the siren. Harden slips the first 10 points of the Nets in the final 12 ‘and the game does not end, even when smart 3’ from the end puts the 118-106. Despite the return of Brooklyn, the Celtics always maintain an advantage that allows them not to go into pain. And to reopen the series.
Boston:Tatum 50 (11/19 from two, 5/11 from three, 13/15 free throws), Smart 23, Thompson 19. Bounces: Thompson 13. Assist: Tatum 7.
Brooklyn:Harden 41 (4/6, 7/12, 12/13 tl), Durant 39, Irving 16. Rimbalzi: Durant 9. Assist: Harden 10.
May 29, 2021 (change May 29, 2021 | 08:24)
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