Nets lose Game 1, 115-114, on Jayson Tatum’s buzzer-beater – Twin Cities

BOSTON—What a way to lose a game.

After the Nets came back from down 15, and after Kyrie Irving carried the weight of an entire franchise on his shoulders with a masterful performance against his old team, Celtics star Jayson Tatum beat the buzzer with a layup on the final possession of the fourth quarter to seal a 115-114 victory over the Nets in Game 1.

“They pushed it instead of calling the timeout,” head coach Steve Nash said postgame. “I think we took away the first action with (Jaylen Brown) and Marcus Smart. I thought we were intelligent on that action, but they got in a crack (in our defense), and somehow they found Tatum, who made an intelligent cut. Split second here or there and I think it goes the other way.”

The Celtics now lead the first-round series, 1-0. After the Nets looked like they were in position to steal Game 1 before the tide turned late in the fourth.

Irving scored 39 points on 12-of-20 shooting from the field and carried the load while Kevin Durant turned in one of his worst performances since returning from a sprained MCL that derailed his season. Durant shot 9-of-24 from the field and just 1-of-5 from downtown for 23 points. The Nets, a team built largely on star power even after the James Harden deal, missed a standout performance from their superstar forward.

But the Nets still had a chance, even after blowing the minutes of the third quarter and opening allowing the Celtics to take control of the game.

Good teams make you pay for unforced errors, and great teams put you in debt, which is where the Nets found themselves after a flurry of turnovers and forfeited offensive rebounds that gave the Celtics momentum to start the second half.

What the Nets proved is that there is no deficit too large for them to overcome–not when Irving’s jump shot is clicking, and not when the role players step up. Goran Dragic scored 14 and Nic Claxton added 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks off the bench.

But the basketball gods wouldn’t have it any other way. Not when the Nets cheated the game by coming out undisciplined and unfocused to start the second half.

Not in Boston, where Irving once told the fans he wanted to re-sign long-term before signing a four-year deal with the Nets.

Not in Boston, hometown of Nets’ guard Bruce Brown, whose comments about Robert Williams, Al Horford and Daniel Theis were booed pregame when his words were displayed on the jumbotron 20 minutes before tipoff.

Brown said, unprompted, that Williams — a Defensive Player of the Year candidate nursing a knee injury — being out would allow the Nets to attack Horford and Theis, two lesser defenders by virtue of age and lack of athleticism. Horford responded by saying, “My stuff gets done on the court,” then finished Game 1 with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Brown finished with five points in 37 minutes.

The Celtics had four players score 20 or more, led by Tatum, who scored 31 on 9-of-18 shooting from the field. All four of those players were in motion on the final possession, when Tatum cut to the basket on an out-of-whack possession to hit the layup that delivered a victory in Game 1.

This series is far from over. In fact, from the looks of things, it just might go to Game 7. Game 1 of this series did not disappoint, and that might be the best takeaway for a Nets team that finds itself down 0-1 in the first round.

Durant played poorly and the Nets got next to nothing from Brown, Seth Curry, Patty Mills and Kessler Edwards. Yet they were still in position to win it at the buzzer. And they still have a chance to bounce back and swipe Game 2 before the series moves to Brooklyn.

() Nets lose Game 1, 115-114, on Jayson Tatum’s buzzer-beater – Twin Cities

Jessica MacLeish

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