The Nets beat the Cavaliers in the playoffs and will face the Celtics next

For much of the NBA game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night, the Nets seemed like a terrifying team that many observers had long ago said was hiding behind their mediocre record. Kevin Durant was great. Kyrie Irving did not miss a shot until the fourth quarter. Many team members made important contributions beyond what was expected of them.

And yet, the game came in the final minutes for Cleveland, with a 20-point lead after the first quarter and a 22-point lead in the third, just 6 minutes short of a minute.

The job was finally done: the Nets won 115-108 to finish 7th in the Eastern Conference, and the first round match with the Boston Celtics. But the game was the latest example of the Nets ’performance, which could be quantified as a mind-boggling mix of global talent and disturbing lethargy.

For the half-full crowd, Irving and Durant of the Nets scored 59 points on 23 shots while providing 23 assists, another show to fill the stats of one of the most talented teams in the NBA. An engaging insight into what their collaboration could be at its peak, a peak seen during their time together in Brooklyn.

But they were not the only ones. Bruce Brown, a great player on the team, had 18 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists, often providing the ball as a crucial release valve when he was hit by defenders Durant and Irving on offense. Andre Drummond penalized Cleveland on the boards with 16 points and 8 rebounds in just 19 minutes. Nic Claxton, the spry reserve center, scored 13 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks from the bench.

But the set, which was half-empty, also had evidence that the Nets had almost another advantage against a smaller team. Against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, against one of the worst teams in the NBA, at home, the Nets suffered a similar end that came uncomfortably. In the previous game – even against Cleveland – the Nets eliminated a two-digit difference in the third quarter. Previously it was a game against the Knicks, another less talented team playing the rope; The net took a 21-point lead in that first half.

Those three games required a fourth-quarter rally to win, but all three repeated the pattern that has been played for much of the season: The Nets, despite being talented in a couple of positions, are a team struggling to form a wire. -to-wire performances. And in the playoffs, against the best teams in the league, that could be their Achilles heel.

“That’s also part of our journey,” Nets coach Steve Nash said while trying to find a way to change his passion for flirting with his team’s disaster on Tuesday. “It simply came to our notice then. Convert to 30 “.

In the opening game of Sunday’s first-round series, the Nets will travel to Boston and find a Celtics team that is not the same team that the Nets easily sent last season. And, thanks to Nets’ Brown, Celtics will now have bulletin board material as motivation.

Asked about the Celtics on Tuesday, Brown suggested that Robert Williams III, Boston’s starting center and one of the best defenders in the league, should not be “less present in the paint.”

The comments didn’t go down well with Durant, and he proudly dismissed them for “talking about the pride of caffeine”. Brown said that while Williams was away, the Nets could “attack” Al Horford and Daniel Theis of Boston, who are rounding out the Celtics round. Durant smiled and said, “These two guys can do the same thing.”

Durant’s physical condition is another enduring concern for the Nets, who are included in the Celtics series. Entering the play-in tournament required a heavy workload for Durant, who played 42 minutes on Tuesday night. Since the All-Star break, Durant has averaged 38.6 minutes per game. While the other stars in the league were able to manage their minutes and save their legs, the 33-year-old Durant had to spend more energy than usual to lead his team to the playoffs.

One way or another, they’ll be in the Nets playoffs like they did last season: with high hopes and little time together. Last year, this was due to an injury and an injury to James Harden. This year is the result of injuries and a decision to swap out Harden (not to mention Irving’s long absence from refusing to receive the coronavirus vaccine).

“We’re such a new team,” Nash said. “I think tonight was like the seventh game that these nine players played together. So every day is a day to learn about ourselves”.

Throughout the season, however, the networks have been betting that talent outweighs cohesion. That’s why they confused the players with how often they went into the rotation and out, why they were willing to exchange Harden. Tuesday night’s victory showed a tinge of championship potential in the team.

In the first three quarters, though.

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