BOSTON — The Nets performed arguably their finest sport of the season.
And Boston was on the fallacious finish of it.
The Nets crushed the Celtics 123-104 earlier than 19,156 at TD Garden, a sellout crowd that obtained testy within the third quarter however deflated halfway via the fourth, streaming for the exits.
“I’d hope our guys would welcome that [atmosphere],” coach Steve Nash stated. “That’s what makes it fun is to go play on the road in a great atmosphere. That’s what gets you excited and it’s a pleasure to be able to play in that type of environment. So a [Wednesday] night in Boston is a great NBA atmosphere.”
East-leading Brooklyn (14-5) received its fourth straight, and twelfth in its final 14.
For the primary time since final season’s playoffs — after they drilled these identical Celtics within the first spherical, earlier than seeing accidents and the eventual-champion Bucks cease them within the second — Brooklyn truly appeared like a title group.
Patty Mills had a team-high 23 factors, whereas Kevin Durant added 21 and James Harden 20 with 11 assists and 7 boards.
The Nets have scored extra and shot higher this season; however that was in opposition to Orlando and Detroit. To do that to Boston — in Boston — is a blowout of a unique shade, arguably their best efficiency but.
And who was to argue? Certainly not the Celtics.
Not after the Nets held them to 36.7 p.c capturing, and 11 of 48 from deep.
Not after Brooklyn smothered each Jayson Tatum (4 of 16) and Jaylen Brown (5 of 15). Not after the Nets truly appeared like a contender on each ends of the court docket.
Up up to now, the Nets had compensated for the continued absence of All-Star Kyrie Irving by grinding out defensive victories. Their offense obtained much more hamstrung by the ankle harm to Joe Harris and Blake Griffin’s capturing struggles.
No matter. Nash pushed the precise buttons, giving rookie Cam Thomas extra minutes and benching Griffin for LaMarcus Aldridge. The strikes got here up golden.
Aldridge had 17 factors and 9 rebounds. But extra necessary, his midrange sport unlocked the offense, giving the Nets spacing and serving to them shred the normally stout Celtics protection for 51.2 p.c capturing.
“That’s part of it for sure. Our spacing has struggled at times and also has hurt our pace a little bit. So we try to find different combinations that work,” Nash stated.
“If we’re going to play against loaded defenses, it’s going to be hard no matter if your name is Kevin Durant or James Harden. It’s just tough to go one-on-two, one-on-three. We’ve got to play quick, move the defense, move the help and attack. That’s something we’re still trying to work towards and get there.”
They obtained there for an evening.
After taking a 29-22 lead via the primary interval, Brooklyn went on an 11-3 run to begin the second. Harden’s 3-pointer capped it and gave the Nets a 40-25 edge.
Brooklyn mounted one other cost to start the third, this time an prolonged 18-3 run. This time it was Harden who discovered sixth-man Mills — beginning instead of Harris — for a 3-pointer, and an 80-52 lead.
The cushion obtained padded to 29, at 90-60 on Harden’s step-back 3 after which at 91-62 on Aldridge’s free throw with 3:50 left within the third.
That proved greater than sufficient. The Nets finally took their foot off the fuel, and Boston made the inevitable run, slicing the result in a dozen.
The Celtics obtained inside 97-85 on Tatum’s working dunk with 9:23 to play, however no nearer.
“[Aldridge] has been great,” stated Celtic coach Ime Udoka, a Nets assistant final season. “He brings a different dynamic to their team. He’s a veteran that they trust. I know Kevin and James, they were recruiting him to get him there and bring him back; and he’s been doing a great job. The impact is night and day when he scores and plays that well … and I see his role increasing going forward.”