Celtics get buried by Nets’ second half onslaught, lose 123-95

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

A strong first half went down the toilet after a rough third quarter for the Celtics.

1st quarter:

Tristan Thompson destroyed DeAndre Jordan on the glass. Jordan made his mark with a loud alley-oop but it can’t be understated how slow he looks when he’s not directly involved. Thompson only recorded three boards in his first stint, but he ripped them from Jordan pretty decisively.

Payton Pritchard hitting his first three off the bench is hysterical. No disrespect to the guy – I swear – but I can’t get over how young and out of place he looks out there. To his credit, he plays like he belongs and and that’s all I care about. Any time he gets caught in a mismatch is still pretty painful and the Celtics need to be vigilant to prevent it.

Nets lead 26-22 after 1. Jeff Green closed the quarter on an uncontested putback dunk. Thompson has three fouls already. Something I saw that I hoped I wouldn’t after the first game: Semi Ojeleye on the court at the same time as Pritchard, but I guess the Celtics can’t blow a lead if they don’t have one yet.

2nd quarter:

Semi Ojeleye drives to the rim and gets stuffed by Allen at the rim; he then recovers the ball and slams it. I have mixed feelings on a player screaming and flexing after immediately getting blocked, but you know what? I’ll take whatever bench scoring we can get. Semi driving literally at all is a massive improvement.

I simply cannot believe this play happened.

Might as well say this now: this recap is pretty short on words right now because this game is messy. Lots of steals and blocks for each team, but not a lot of buckets to show for it. Also, the Daniel Theis seal (that Thompson also does now) is apparently going to be called as a foul. Not sure where we go from here.

Brad Stevens picks up a technical, probably because of how horrible the previously mentioned fouls were.

Grant Williams’ role has grown beyond being stuck in the corner on offense. The Celtics clearly trust him more with the ball, and he’s capitalized by flexing his court vision and playmaking.

Celtics lead 54-51 at halftime. The Nets got a ton of cheap whistles in the last couple minutes, so I’m pretty much ecstatic about the Celtics pulling ahead. Thompson, Theis, and Brown all have three fouls. Tatum and Brown have 12 and 13 points apiece.

3rd quarter:

Kevin Durant opens the quarter dropping 9 effortless points on Tristan Thompson.

The Celtics are playing nightmarishly slow offense as Brooklyn heats up. While Kyrie and KD attack, Boston is dribbling out the shot clock as nothing develops. This was evidently annoying enough to Brad to put Javonte Green in for the first time this season.

Alright I’m going to be that guy again: these whistles are some hot stinky garbage. Smart gets elbowed in the face and is called for a foul. Kevin Durant falls down on the very next possession without being touched and it’s reviewed for a flagrant. (It was ultimately not called a flagrant.) And of course ESPN blesses us with another pointless interview with Steve Javie to explain to us why bad calls are good, actually. Completely unrelated: Nets go up 12 before the Celtics call a timeout.

86-77 Nets at the end of the 3rd.

4th quarter:

Celtics offense still isn’t looking sharp, even with Durant on the bench. A quick Landry Shamet three gave Brooklyn a 16-point lead and forced a quick timeout from Boston.

Finally, a positive for Boston: Jaylen Brown has relentless attacked the basket and scored seven straight for the Celtics. It didn’t do much to dent the deficit but it’s the effort that matters, right?

From there, the Celtics missed a ton of layups and short jumpers that were clearly tossed up out of frustrating. Thompson and Brown in particular were forcing the issue a bit, but I can’t blame them. This was a deeply frustrating second half with close misses, foot-barely-out-of-bounds turnovers, and tough whistles after getting elbowed in the jaw.

Nesmith got some run, but I really don’t care for the timing of his minutes. It’s nearly impossible to enter this game as a rookie and hit shots right away. I know the whole mantra here is about being ready but I really can’t defend Brad’s rotations tonight. Grant Williams played only 16 minutes (as of the 2:30 mark) while Pritchard is already up to 23.

I don’t think this was a terrible loss. One bad third quarter was enough to sink this one, but I really love how Jaylen is playing as well as Thompson’s strength on the boards. Splitting these first two games 1-1 is an acceptable outcome.