BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Regardless of whether Kyrie Irving plays these days, he’s a big deal when his current (Brooklyn) and former teams (Boston) face one another.
The “Ky-rie sucks!” chants in Boston were replaced by “Ky-rie’s better,” “Ky-rie’s home” or “You need Ky-rie!” or their fourth quarter favorite, “He chose Brooklyn!”
And the end result was once again good for the home team as the Celtics’ attempts at a fourth quarter comeback fell short with the Nets clinging to a 112-107 win.
The Nets (10-9) continue to be at their best without Irving, improving their record to 6-2 in his absence compared to 4-7 when he has been healthy enough to play.
Boston was led by Jayson Tatum’s 26 points with Kemba Walker chipping in 17 points, six assists and five rebounds.
Brooklyn was led by Spencer Dinwiddie’s game-high 32 points in addition to Jarred Allen’s double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds.
TATUM’S TAKEOVER LASTED FOR (ONLY A) HALF OF PLAY
It’s hard not to love Jayson Tatum’s game, one that blends 3-point shooting with off-the-dribble drives with rebounding and defense that seems to be getting better and better as time passes.
But what we saw in the first half of on Friday has to become the norm rather than an anomaly when it comes to Tatum.
He was dominant in the first half, not only in scoring but more so in looking for points. He has to be more about seeking out ways to score rather than waiting for it to come in the flow of play.
But the second half was an entirely different game for Tatum, who only scored eight points in the second half to finish with a nice stat line of 26 points and nine rebounds.
The final line looked great, but for him to continue making that leap that both he and Celtics fans are looking for from him this season, he has to show the ability to dominate games — not just a half, but a full game — more consistently.
For those who believe the Celtics have a problem at the center position, they will point to today’s game as an example that makes their case. Jarrett Allen was the one player who consistently hurt Boston at both ends of the floor as the Celtics never made the proper adjustments. Allen’s ability to get offensive rebounds kept way too many Brooklyn possessions alive, many of which ended with a Nets basket.
Boston tried to come back with a little more Enes Kanter with a sprinkling of Robert Williams III.
But nothing seemed to work, serving as a reminder that Boston’s big man depth is an issue and will continue to be one until the Celtics address it in a meaningful manner, as Allen finished with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds.
CELTICS' THREE-POINT DEFENSE
Home or away, this is becoming a growing problem seemingly with each passing game. The Nets came away with the win on Friday in part because of their ability to burn the Celtics consistently from 3-point range.
The Nets made 17 threes on Friday, marking the fourth time in the last five games that Boston has allowed that many or more made 3-pointers in a game.
The reasons for why they are getting lit up on a regular basis from 3-point range vary. Some of it has to do with defensive rotations being slower than they need to be. Part of it has to do with matchups.
But more than anything else, Boston doesn’t defend the 3-point shot with any kind of sense of urgency; that is, until the late stages of games. But by then, too often teams are in a nice rhythm — and even with better defense, that rhythm becomes difficult to break.
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