August 20, 2022

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Karl-Anthony Cities rises to problem as Timberwolves even collection

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

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

Durant, who calls himself the Straightforward Cash Sniper, has turn into Las Vegas’ Straightforward 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 sport in a row, Durant struggled in opposition to 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 together with eight assists and 5 turnovers.

“That was a sh—y sport, man. A s—-y sport,” Durant mentioned.

And the Nets succumbed to the Celtics’ protection in a 109-103 loss at Barclays Middle — an area 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 dwelling ground, chanted MVP at famous person Jayson Tatum within the sport’s waning moments and finally helped neutralize any benefit the Nets could have had enjoying in entrance of their hometown followers.

And now, the Nets discover themselves down within the playoff collection, 3-0, a deficit no staff in NBA historical past has ever overcome. It’s nearly time to interrupt out the brooms. A sweep isn’t simply on the desk. The way in which 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 mentioned of the collection deficit. “I don’t suppose no speech or something gonna do [anything] at this level within the yr. We all know what it’s. We’ve obtained one other sport 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 like one set to defy the percentages, 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 method. If he doesn’t have the ball, one defender denies the move and one other lurks to ship assistance on the catch. And if he someway battles by all that contact, all that friction between himself and the ball, he’s nonetheless obtained to make a shot, which by three video games has been contested by roughly 2.5 defenders per try.

Udoka has crafted a sport 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 mentioned pregame Boston’s sport 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 couple of.

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

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“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 good condition.”

Via three video games in opposition to the Celtics, Durant has solely tallied 66 factors and has turned the ball over 17 occasions. He doesn’t look certain of himself, has overthought nearly each possession, and now not appears like the most effective 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 collection.

“I assumed he was seeking to discover his teammates as a result of he’s been loaded up on,” head coach Steve Nash mentioned. “Most likely handed on some appears as a result of he’s anticipating guys to come back however I assumed he tried to play the fitting method and we simply clearly struggled a bit bit connecting passes tonight.”

For reference, Durant averaged 42 factors per sport 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 a different way to proper the ship in Recreation 4, his solutions got here off extra like questions.

“The primary two video games I simply felt like there wasn’t loads of house for me to function to attain, so I didn’t wish to pressure it,” Durant mentioned. “Perhaps that’s the unsuitable resolution coming into this sport. Perhaps I ought to have been extra aggressive to attain. I used to be simply making an attempt to play it the fitting method, making an attempt to play it the fitting method and let the sport come to me.

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“Perhaps shoot extra, possibly simply be smarter, catch the ball nearer to the rim, play quicker,” he continued earlier than taking an extended 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 sphere 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 vitality, 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 date the Celtics have discovered the solutions to each query his distinctive mix of dimension, IQ and scoring means creates.

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