Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant Combine for 81 as Nets Rout Celtics, Take 3-1 Series Lead

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 31, 2021

BOSTON, MA - MAY 30: Kyrie Irving #11 and Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets look on during the game against the Boston Celtics during Round 1, Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 30, 2021 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets grabbed a commanding 3-1 series lead on the Boston Celtics following a 141-126 victory in the 2021 NBA playoffs on Sunday at TD Garden in Boston.

The Celtics took Game 3 thanks in large part to Jayson Tatum's 50-point effort. The Celtics announced before Game 4 they'd be without Kemba Walker because of a bone bruise, which made it easier for the Nets to deny Tatum another monster performance.

Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving on their own were nearly enough to match the Celtics' output, finishing with 104 points between the three.

Brooklyn shot 57.8 percent as a team and went 16-of-27 on three-pointers.

A 35-point fourth quarter from the Celtics made the final score a little closer than the true gap separating the two teams on the night.

Notable Performers

Kevin Durant, PF, Nets: 42 points (14-20 FG; 3-3 3P), five assists, four rebounds, two blocks, one steal

Kyrie Irving, PG, Nets: 39 points (11-24 FG; 6-12 3P), 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals

James Harden, SG, Nets: 23 points (8-12 FG; 2-5 3P), 18 assists, five rebounds, three blocks, two steals

Jayson Tatum, SF, Celtics: 40 points (10-22 FG; 3-7 3P), seven rebounds, five assists, two blocks, one steal

Big 3 Too Much for Short-Handed Celtics

The Nets could almost take solace from the fact that they only lost by six points in Game 3 despite Tatum's offensive outburst. Brooklyn's response Sunday was a reminder of how Boston simply doesn't have the same volume of top-end talent, especially with the injuries across its roster.

Durant in particular poses a matchup nightmare to Celtics head coach Brad Stevens since he continually looked to attack Tristan Thompson.

Abby Chin @tvabby

Kevin Durant huntin' that switch onto Tristan Thompson like Jayson Tatum is lookin' for Blake Griffin. Superstar battle @tdgarden tonight!

Kristian Winfield @Krisplashed

Kevin Durant hit a shot then immediately turned to Tristan Thompson and started jawing at him.

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

๐“…๐“Š๐“‡๐‘’@KDTrey5 โ–ช๏ธ #NETSLEVEL pic.twitter.com/di2thjqYFc

Irving, meanwhile, seemed to take it upon himself to atone for a forgettable Game 3 in which he shot 6-of-17 from the floor and picked up four fouls. Having Walker healthy probably wouldn't have helped the Celtics defend Irving too much, but they lacked a dynamic scorer at the point to match the seven-time All-Star shot-for-shot.

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

.@KyrieIrving getting his ๐Ÿ‘€ pic.twitter.com/d4Hfb1Q6r6

YES Network @YESNetwork

"YES KAI!" - Joe Harris<br><br>"Kyrie Irving gets upstairs!!!" - Ian Eagle#NETSonYES pic.twitter.com/R3v5fLMeUk

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

KYRIE IS LOCKED IN. pic.twitter.com/ahY1AKK5Sm

Harden had a pretty quiet double-double in a playoff game for a winning team. You get caught watching Durant and Irving and look down at the stat sheet to discover the 2017-18 MVP dished out 18 assists.

The lack of continuity between members of the Nets has been discussed before and during the playoffs. Durant, Harden and Irving logged just 202 minutes together over eight games across the regular season, per NBA.com.

Another team might be able to exploit that deeper into the postseason. For now, the Celtics simply look overmatched.

Poor 2nd Quarter Dooms Celtics

The Celtics led 34-33 after the first quarter. Unable to cede any ground for the remainder of the series, it looked like Boston was throwing everything it had at the Nets to potentially steal another game at home.

Then Brooklyn dropped 40 points in the fourth quarter. That basically removed any doubt about the outcome.

Ben Rohrbach @brohrbach

Celtics just need the greatest offense in the history of offenses to have a prolonged dry spell.

Keith Smith @KeithSmithNBA

This was more or less over when the matchup was set. Brooklyn is healthy (or at least was) and has far more talent.<br><br>The Celtics did well to get the one they got and to be in a spot where they could have stolen Game 1.<br><br>There are no moves left to make that don't involve prayer. https://t.co/hZjoRnI3q1

Tatum did his best to carry the Celtics but was fighting a losing battle. His turnaround jumper on Durant in the first quarter was one of his team's few highlights.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Tatum mixed up KD ๐Ÿ˜ฎ pic.twitter.com/sANDhZmH08


Too many moves.#PhantomCam #NBAPlayoffs <br><br>๐Ÿ“บ: TNT pic.twitter.com/FrwQqaZJXO

Although the season isn't yet over for Boston, it certainly feels that way. Assuming a historic comeback isn't on the cards, the team is about to embark on a pivotal offseason since this year seems to have raised doubts about whether this roster can match up against the best of the Eastern Conference.

Tatum and Jaylen Brown is a good start when forging a championship-caliber roster. The Celtics' present supporting cast isn't getting them over the top, however.

What's Next?

Game 5 will tip at 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.