It’s been a while since the Celtics have had a night like this.
Boston absolutely unloaded on old ‘friend’ Kyrie Irving and an undermanned Nets squad 139-96 Wednesday night at TD Garden. The win for Boston was its 10th straight over Brooklyn dating back to last season.
The game was all but over after the Celtics raced out to a 46-16 first quarter lead. Boston shot 62.1% (18-29) from the floor and 8-11 from 3-point range in the frame. This marked the first time in franchise history that the C’s have outscored their opponent by 30 points in the first quarter. Boston pushed the lead to 79-45 at the half, their largest halftime lead in 10 years.
“It’s definitely fun,” said Malcolm Brogdon following the game. “The starting five came out and set the tone, and I thought the second group came out and followed their lead and kept playing with a lot of energy on both ends.”
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led the way with 31 and 26 respectively, each shooting 7 for 12 from three. The entire team shot lights out from beyond the arc, making 59.1% of their threes at the half and 48.1% for the game.
On the boards, the Celtics feasted, out-rebounding the Nets by nearly 30. Robert Williams III in particular had a great night, posting 16 points and 9 rebounds, taking Nic Claxton completely out of the game, and breaking out a jump hook on the offensive end.
“I feel like the ceiling for me is no ceiling,” said Williams III. “With the teammates that I have, through my injuries, they really helped me. Going back to the little jump hooks, they encourage it. They encourage me to be who I am.”
Robert Williams says there is no ceiling on his potential ?
— Celtics on CLNS (@CelticsCLNS) February 2, 2023
The team defense was also intense from the start, discombobulating Kyrie Irving with swarming defense and forcing contested looks from the Nets’ shooters.
The Nets were without three of their top 7 rotation players in Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons, and TJ Warren. Despite being shorthanded, Irving acknowledged that right now, the Nets are simply not on the Celtics level.
“When you’re going against a very motivated team such as the Boston Celtics, they have a chip on their shoulder,” Irving said after the game. “It’s clear as day that they want to win a championship and not waste any time in the regular season. Tonight, I felt like we were just one of those teams in the way. We got to be one of those teams that stands up to them and at least shows them that we’re going to be competition for them moving forward, which I believe we are.”