Celtics

Kemba's struggles prove costly in Game 1 loss

Celtics

It was a hard-fought Game 1, but the Boston Celtics simply couldn't hang with the Brooklyn Nets for all four quarters on Saturday night.

After a rocky first half, the Nets' "Big Three" woke up in the third quarter and didn't look back. Kevin Durant finished with a game-high 32 points and 12 rebounds while ex-Celtic Kyrie Irving and James Harden dropped 29 and 21 respectively. The trio accounted for 79 percent of Brooklyn's points.

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 22 points in the losing effort.

Here are three quick takeaways from the C's Game 1 defeat:

A missed opportunity for Celtics

For a while, it looked like the Celtics had a real chance to steal Game 1 from the Nets. They held Brooklyn to a mere 16 points in the first quarter. That isn't an easy feat.

The Celtics also kept the Nets from getting anything going beyond the arc. Everything seemed to be going Boston's way, yet somehow they went into the locker room for halftime up only six points.

Celtics first-half 3P%
52.9%
Nets first-half 3P%
7.7%

That small lead quickly evaporated in the third quarter as the Nets woke up and started hitting their shots. Boston and Brooklyn switched roles in the second half as the C's were only able to score 40 total points. A late fourth-quarter run by the Nets ultimately killed any shot Boston had at pulling off the upset and going up 1-0.

The Celtics had a golden opportunity to take one on the road from the No. 2 seed. Instead, the result is a loss they'll likely lose some sleep over.

Too little, too late from Kemba Walker

If the Celtics are going to make this a competitive series, they're going to need a lot more from Kemba Walker going forward.

 

After a red-hot finish to the regular season, Walker struggled mightily right away in Game 1. Getting into early foul trouble proved costly as he was unable to gain any sort of a rhythm. It marked only the second time Walker has tallied four fouls in a game all season.

Walker finished with 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting. Six of those points came on two late 3-pointers, but at that point it was just too little, too late.

Jayson Tatum didn't fare any better in the second half as he shot just 0-for-6 from the field. Times like that are when guys like Walker need to step up. Boston didn't get that out of their prized point guard in Game 1, and that is going to have to change. Fast.

Robert Williams is a major difference maker

It's a shame the Celtics' loss overshadows the highlights from the night, because big man Robert Williams put on a show in his return.

Time Lord battled through a nagging turf toe injury to make Celtics history. The 23-year-old set a franchise record with nine blocks, topping Kendrick Perkins and Robert Parish's previous high of seven.

Robert Williams sets C's postseason record with 9 blocks

Williams was oh so close to a triple-double as he also tallied 11 points and nine rebounds. At no point did Brooklyn have any answer for his imposing defensive presence.

Saturday night showed once again just how much of a difference Williams makes for the C's when he's on the court. His health will be crucial to Boston's success for the remainder of the series.

Game 2 of Celtics vs. Nets is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday.