Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown Lead Kemba Walker-Less Celtics to Big Win vs. Nets

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2020

Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III (44) tries to block the shot of Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris (12) uring the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

The Boston Celtics have dealt with inconsistency at Walt Disney World Resort since the season restarted, but they looked the part of a contender Wednesday with a commanding 149-115 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

Boston was just 1-2 in Florida's seeding games prior to this win and also lost two of three head-to-head matchups with the Nets during the regular season before play was suspended.

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum made sure that changed with impressive showings, preventing the Nets from clinching a playoff spot in the process.


Notable Player Stats

  • Jayson Tatum, F, BOS: 19 PTS, 7-of-11 FG, 5-of-8 3PT
  • Jaylen Brown, G, BOS: 21 PTS, 7-of-13 FG, 5-of-9 3PT
  • Gordon Hayward, F, BOS: 18 PTS, 7 REB, 3 AST
  • Marcus Smart, G, BOS: 12 PTS, 6 AST, 5 REB, 3 STL, 2-of-3 3PT
  • Robert Williams, C, BOS: 18 PTS, 5 REB, 3 BLK, 7-of-7 FG
  • Caris LeVert, G, BKN: 13 PTS, 5 REB, 2 STL, 2 BLK
  • Joe Harris, F, BKN: 14 PTS, 6 REB, 2 STL
  • Jarrett Allen, C, BKN: 11 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST, 5-of-8 FG


Balanced Effort Provides Reassurance for Celtics

Starting the seeding games with the Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers and Miami Heat, especially with Portland fighting for a playoff spot, was anything but easy for the Celtics. But Boston is on the short list of realistic contenders to emerge from the Eastern Conference and came up short in both of those games against East competition.

That, along with the fact that Kemba Walker is working his way back from a knee injury and was sidelined Wednesday, provided reason for concern for a team that was just 1.5 games ahead of the fourth-seeded Heat entering play.

Things didn't look much better out of the gates when Tatum picked up three fouls in the first quarter, but the rest of the team picked up the slack.

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With Gordon Hayward mixing in a couple of step-back shots while handling the ball more with Walker out and Brown assuming the role of go-to scorer by catching fire from deep and attacking space inside the arc, the game was never in doubt.

Boston poured in 71 points in the first half alone, which the ESPN broadcast noted was the team's third-highest scoring half of the season.

It wasn't just the stars, as Robert Williams had multiple dunks around the rim, Marcus Smart did a little bit of everything and seven Celtics scored in double figures in a dominant showing. Just for good measure, Tatum found his touch in the second half with the game well in hand.

Getting to the playoffs healthy is the most important thing for the Celtics since Tatum, Brown, Hayward and Walker are a talented enough group to compete with any team in the league when playing up to their potential, but Wednesday's showing provided reason for optimism amid some early inconsistency in Florida.


Reinforcements Not Enough for Nets

Few teams in the league are as short-handed as the Nets.

While it would be bad enough to be without stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving because of injuries, Brooklyn is also playing without Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Wilson Chandler and Taurean Prince.

What's more, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris were sidelined during Tuesday's stunning win over the Bucks, and Jamal Crawford missed Wednesday's loss with a hamstring injury.

Boston Celtics @celtics

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Boston Celtics @celtics

wait a second..... did you see that pass 👀👀 https://t.co/Z0OCwrxhIR

Boston Celtics @celtics

transition dunks >>> https://t.co/rCPoP7iqPq

LeVert, Allen and Harris all returned to action Wednesday, which, in theory, represented a massive boost with Allen's ability to protect the rim, Harris' three-point shooting and LeVert's scoring.

Boston missed the memo.

The trio all scored in double figures, but it was far from enough to overcome the Celtics' balanced effort.

Fortunately for the Nets, their magic number to avoid a play-in tournament with the ninth-seeded Washington Wizards is just one. That means Wednesday's loss likely won't be much of an issue when it comes to the long-term goal of qualifying for the playoffs.


What's Next?

Both teams play Friday when the Celtics take on the Toronto Raptors in a marquee matchup and the Nets face the Sacramento Kings.