Celtics complete 4-game sweep of Nets with 116-112 victory

NEW YORK, Apr 26 (US): Jason Tatum is stunned, but sure. He disapproved of his sixth foul, but had no doubt that the Boston Celtics, with their solid defense, would hold out without their scoring star.


“I don’t believe it at all, but I think that’s what we were built for,” Tatum said.

It may be designed for a tournament, the Associated Press reports.


Tatum scored 29 points, Jaylen Brown 22 and the Celtics completed a four-game sweep of the Brooklyn Nets, becoming the first team to reach the second round of the playoffs with a 116-112 win on Monday night.


Marcus Smart added 20 points and 11 assists for the No. 2, seeded Celtics, who made easy work of what he thought was a tough streak. Boston will await the winner of the series between Milwaukee and Chicago, with the defending champion Bucks leading 3-1.


The Celtics showed no fear of the Nets, who along with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving did not have the image of the typical low-seed. Boston won on the last day of the regular season instead of losing to fall back in the standings and avoid a showdown.


Turns out there was no cause for concern.

“It’s funny to us, because we don’t avoid anybody,” Smart said. “We knew what we were going to come here and do.”


Durant scored 39 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds, breaking the ball after the Celtics defended him well in the first three games. But he couldn’t get the win the Nets needed to extend what happened instead as a massive failure for one season.

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Expected to be a contender in the NBA Finals, the Nets needed a strong finish just to snatch the No. 7 seed.


Seth Curry scored 23 points for the Nets. Irving, whose absence from home matches for most of the season because he was not vaccinated against the Corona virus, contributed to his net performance far below expectations, with 20 points.


“There are a lot of things that might influence why we lost, but they were just a better team,” Durant said.


The Celtics were under .500 midway through their season but went 31-10 from there, with Tatum emerging as the top scorer on one of the top defensive teams in the NBA.


This defense limited Durant to just 19-52 shooting with 17 turns in his first three games and made it difficult for him to finally have more shots on Monday. He’s only been 13 of 31 from the field, and 3 for 11 behind the arc.


He lost in the first round for the first time since 2010 with Oklahoma City, the first playoff series of his career. He has won nine consecutive first-round series.


Tatum had 12 points in the third quarter and the Celtics opened a 90-75 lead in the final seconds of the period. But he went to the bench with a fifth foul with 8:17 remaining and made a push that left them within three points after about three minutes.


Tatum juggled the Celtics with a six-goal lead with a 2:48 play rate. Irving made a 3-pointer and Durant scored to cut it to 109-108 with 1:28 remaining. But after a basket from Brown, Durant managed only one free throw and the Celtics rushed to the ground, Al Horford put Smart’s wasted back to 113-109 with 13 seconds left.

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With Durant, Irving and James Harden, the Nets started the season as a team that looked strong enough to win their first NBA title. But Irving never played to start the season, and not long after he returned to playing only road games, Harden became unhappy and the Nets treated him to Philadelphia in a deal with Ben Simmons.


The Nets had been hoping the Simmons could make their debut for them in Game 4, but were left out on Sunday due to more back pain that bothered him not long ago after arriving in a mid-season deal with Philadelphia.


Irving said his feelings were “a disappointment, a bit of sadness, because we didn’t play as a team as we wanted to.”


The Nets dropped just 45-44 with 3:29 to play in the second quarter. But Grant Williams made three three-pointers from then until the break, the latter giving Boston a 58-50 lead.


Hints

Celtics: Boston swept their first tour series for the third time in four years. The Celtics beat Indiana in four games in 2019 and Philadelphia in 2020 at Walt Disney World. They lost 4-1 in the first round against the Nets last season. …Williams scored 14 points and Horford 13.


Nets: Bruce Brown scored just two points after having scored 26 and 23 in the previous two games, the first time he’s had consecutive 20-point games in his career. …Nick Claxton scored 13 points. He was 6 for 6 from the field but 1 for 11 at the free throw line, and he lost his first 10 before making his last 10 when the Celtics intentionally fouled.

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Simmons case

Coach Steve Nash said he didn’t want to speak for Simmons, but acknowledged there is a mental side that goes beyond the physical problems he faces. Simmons cited mental health concerns as a reason for his quest to leave Philadelphia and was not fit to race the 76ers this season.


“I think Ben has addressed that there is a mental component with what he’s going through, but not how much and where he’s with that it’s not for me to talk about,” Nash said. “But in terms of the foundation, we’re really pushing to support Ben in any way we can to help him get better physically and get back on the court, so the mental aspect of that is an integral part. They’re not separate, they’re not something we don’t want to deal with. We want help if he needs help. in any aspect of his life and play.”






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