The Celtics Completed A Sweep Of The Nets In A Hard-Fought Game 4 Win

The Boston Celtics are the first team to punch their ticket to the second round of the NBA Playoffs, polishing off a sweep of the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night at the Barclays Center in a 116-112 win.

As expected, Kevin Durant came out firing early after a dismal first three games of the series, scoring 20 in the first half as he started to get loose from the perimeter and the midrange, trying his best to keep the Nets attached.

Boston still was able to take a 30-26 lead after the first quarter thanks in large part to getting Brooklyn in early foul trouble and marching to the free throw line. In the second, it was through more conventional means that the Celtics opened up as much as a 9-point lead, with Jayson Tatum once again stepping up to lead the charge.

Brooklyn would cut that down to as few as two, but as has been the case throughout the series, every time the Nets started to gain positive momentum, the Celtics had the answer. At the end of the first half it was Grant Williams who got left wide open by Kyrie Irving to push Boston’s lead back up to eight at the break.

The Celtics steadily increased their lead in the third quarter, pushing it to as many as 15 points with 36.8 to play in the third quarter, as Jayson Tatum once again took over, scoring seemingly at will.

However, in the early fourth quarter Tatum picked up his fifth foul on a charge taken by Blake Griffin that forced him to the bench and the Celtics offense struggled to keep up with their star out, allowing the Nets to go on a run that cut the Boston lead to as few as three with just under six minutes remaining, as Durant and Seth Curry kept their strong nights going offensively and Goran Dragic injected some life into the Nets as well.

Tatum would come back in for a couple minutes to push the lead back to six, but fouled out with 2:48 to go on an extremely questionable offensive foul trying to get an inbound against Goran Dragic.

The Nets would quickly take advantage going on a little run to cut the Boston lead down to just one with 1:30 to play on a Kevin Durant floater.

However, Jaylen Brown stepped up with the answer on the other end, pushing the Boston lead back to three with a tough take (and a fortuitous bounce back to himself) to set up a layup.

After Marcus Smart fouled Kevin Durant trying to get a steal, Durant split the free throws to leave the Celtics up two with under 24 seconds to play. Brooklyn didn’t foul immediately and on a run-out, Al Horford put the dagger in with a putback to put Boston up four with under 14 seconds to go.

A missed Durant three and two Marcus Smart free throws sealed the sweep for the Celtics, as they put forth one of the most impressive first round series performances in recent history. This was expected to be the hardest fought series and while each game was close, the Celtics simply outclassed the Nets throughout and earned some well-deserved rest before they head to a second round tilt with, most likely, the defending champs.

Tatum finished the game with 29 points and 5 rebounds, as he put a bow on a series that pushed him from being a star into the tier of the NBA’s most elite players in the eyes of many. Jaylen Brown had a 22-point night, providing a needed lift in the non-Tatum minutes down the stretch, and Marcus Smart also chipped in 20 and a team-high 11 assists. Boston, now fully healthy with the return of Robert Williams, certainly look the part of a championship contender and will face a much different challenge in the next round should the Bucks advance up 3-1, but one they’ll be confident they can conquer after this performance against Brooklyn.

As for the Nets, they enter the offseason earlier than anyone anticipated and face a number of questions about everything from coaching to their star duo, but the most notable issue is roster construction. Boston’s size gave the Nets serious problems and while Blake Griffin provided a lift on the glass in the fourth quarter, there is a clear need for more mobile bigs on this team (as Andre Drummond got played off the floor by Boston’s ability to space the floor with their bigs). Shooting is also a need for Brooklyn, which Joe Harris’ return should mitigate that some, but it’s clear that there needs to be more care taken in constructing this roster than simply assuming KD and Kyrie will be enough offensively.