August 13, 2022

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The Nets made half their pictures towards the Celtics and made 12 threes on 29 makes an attempt. They moved the ball for 25 assists on 39 subject targets and 6 of their 9 gamers who logged minutes scored in double figures.

However for the third recreation in a row, Celtics head coach Ime Udoka solved the good puzzle posed by the beforehand unguardable Kevin Durant.

Durant, who calls himself the Simple Cash Sniper, has turn into Las Vegas’ Simple Cash Beneath. It’s turn into the most secure wager in all of basketball because the Celtics put the clamps on him in Recreation 1: No matter Vegas thinks Durant goes to attain, the Celtics have made it their life’s mission to not let him get there.

Thus has been the undoing of a superteam touted early-season championship contenders. For the third recreation in a row, Durant struggled towards the physicality, size and creativity of a league-best Celtics’ protection that’s had each reply for KD’s each transfer. He solely took 11 pictures and scored 16 factors to go along with eight assists and 5 turnovers.

“That was a sh—y recreation, man. A s—-y recreation,” Durant stated.

And the Nets succumbed to the Celtics’ protection in a 109-103 loss at Barclays Middle — an enviornment that sounded extra like Boston’s TD Backyard with Celtics followers that flooded the empty seats lengthy earlier than tipoff, booed Kyrie Irving on his house flooring, chanted MVP at celebrity Jayson Tatum within the recreation’s waning moments and finally helped neutralize any benefit the Nets could have had taking part in in entrance of their hometown followers.

And now, the Nets discover themselves down within the playoff sequence, 3-0, a deficit no staff in NBA historical past has ever overcome. It’s virtually time to interrupt out the brooms. A sweep isn’t simply on the desk. The best way the Celtics have bottled-up Durant and the Nets, it’s doubtless their season ends on Monday.

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“Man, we all know what it’s,” Durant stated of the sequence deficit. “I don’t assume no speech or something gonna do [anything] at this level within the 12 months. We all know what it’s. We’ve acquired one other recreation on Monday. Simply come out and play.”

Name them the Durant Guidelines, and former Nets assistant-turned Celtics head coach Ime Udoka has set them. This staff doesn’t appear to be one set to defy the chances, make NBA historical past and even put forth a spirited effort with their season on the road on Monday.

If Durant holds the ball, his defender smothers him. If he places the ball on the ground, a second defender darts his means. If he doesn’t have the ball, one defender denies the go and one other lurks to ship assistance on the catch. And if he one way or the other battles by way of all that contact, all that friction between himself and the ball, he’s nonetheless acquired to make a shot, which by way of three video games has been contested by roughly 2.5 defenders per try.

Udoka has crafted a recreation plan tailored to decelerate the Nets’ all-world scorer, and because of this, Durant has turn into unrecognizable, extra MarShon Brooks than Kobe Bryant. He stated pregame Boston’s recreation plan was to remove Durant’s air house then ship him towards the assistance off the dribble. It’s what they did to carry Durant to simply 13-of-41 taking pictures with 12 turnovers in Video games 1 and a pair of.

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“[It’s been] extra of identical,” Udoka stated after Recreation 3. “We’re making it robust, doing our work early. Lots of these deflections you guys spoke about or steals that we acquired have been being in denial and being body-to-body, pushing the catches out, greater pickup factors to allow them to’t stroll into these three pointers.

“And in the event that they produce other guys taking pictures essentially the most pictures or scoring essentially the most factors, I really feel like we’re in fine condition.”

By way of three video games towards the Celtics, Durant has solely tallied 66 factors and has turned the ball over 17 instances. He doesn’t look positive of himself, has overthought virtually each possession, and now not appears like the very best participant on the ground. That title now belongs to Tatum, who scored 39 factors on Saturday and has mirrored his offensive manufacturing with stifling protection on Durant in all three video games of the sequence.

“I believed he was seeking to discover his teammates as a result of he’s been loaded up on,” head coach Steve Nash stated. “In all probability handed on some appears as a result of he’s anticipating guys to return however I believed he tried to play the proper means and we simply clearly struggled somewhat bit connecting passes tonight.”

For reference, Durant averaged 42 factors per recreation following a playoff loss final season and ended the common season with the very best point-per-game common at 29.9.

Durant was despondent postgame. When requested what he wanted to do in another way to proper the ship in Recreation 4, his solutions got here off extra like questions.

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“The primary two video games I simply felt like there wasn’t numerous house for me to function to attain, so I didn’t need to drive it,” Durant stated. “Perhaps that’s the improper resolution coming into this recreation. Perhaps I ought to have been extra aggressive to attain. I used to be simply making an attempt to play it the proper means, making an attempt to play it the proper means and let the sport come to me.

“Perhaps shoot extra, perhaps simply be smarter, catch the ball nearer to the rim, play sooner,” he continued earlier than taking a protracted pause. “Catch and shoot extra. I’ll attempt to determine it out by watching movie tomorrow.”

Kyrie Irving solely added 16 factors on 6-of-17 taking pictures from the sector and Bruce Brown led the Nets in scoring with 26 factors. Seth Curry added 10 and Nic Claxton and Patty Mills mixed for 25 off the bench. There was even a Blake Griffin sighting late within the third quarter, an eight-minute stretch that featured excessive power, hustle and grit from the veteran All-Star who had been banished to an finish of the bench function.

None of it issues, although, if Durant doesn’t shine, and to this point the Celtics have discovered the solutions to each query his distinctive mix of dimension, IQ and scoring capacity creates.

And now, it’s virtually time to interrupt out the broom for an annual spring cleansing at Barclays Middle.