BOSTON (CBS) -- Buzzer beaters are fun. Furious comebacks are just as entertaining. The Celtics have done both in the last four nights, and now own a 2-0 lead over the Brooklyn Nets in their first-round playoff series.
Through two postseason games, the Celtics have shown an incredible amount of resilience in their two victories. The resilience to win a close game they almost coughed up, and the resilience to shake off a terrible start and dig themselves out of a giant hole.
In Game 1, Boston overcame a late run by the Nets and some absurd Kyrie Irving shot-making to win a close game at the buzzer. Winning close contests was one of their biggest issues during the regular season, but the Celtics were up to the task on Sunday thanks to a near perfect final minute of basketball.
That perfection was stretched out much longer in Game 2 on Wednesday night. After Seth Curry started the fourth quarter with a three to put the Nets on top 92-85, the Celtics went on a 23-4 run over the next 10-plus minutes to take a 108-96 lead. Boston's 17-point first-half deficit was an afterthought by that point, with TD Garden once again struggling to keep its roof intact.
The Celtics just kept chipping away after falling behind big in the second quarter. They stuck with their game plan and never panicked. Once they ramped up their defense in the third, it felt like one of those games where all they had to do was take a lead to open the floodgates.
That is exactly what happened. Once Payton Pritchard hit a step-back to break a 92-92 tie with 7:49 to go, the Celtics never looked back.
It was during their massive fourth-quarter run that Jaylen Brown scored 10 of his 22 points. Jayson Tatum went on a 7-0 run of his own, hitting a three with 2:07 left to hammer home the dagger.
Boston's dynamic duo was just 8-for-25 entering the fourth. But Brown hit four of his six shots in the final quarter, while Tatum hit two of his three. After Boston's illustrious ball movement was stagnant for the majority of the first half, they were back to whipping it around in the second. The Celtics finished with 27 assists on their 39 baskets on Wednesday, led by Tatum's 10 dimes. He played the role of facilitator when his shot wasn't going down, and is now up to 18 assists in the series.
Brown was the star of the fourth and Tatum added some important buckets, but everyone who played had their fingerprints all over Wednesday's win. Ime Udoka going small injected some energy, and sticking with Pritchard late helped seal the win. Al Horford once again kept the team afloat as Tatum and Brown struggled in the first half, and Grant Williams was a magician off the bench with 17 points. All five of Boston's starters scored in double figures, and everyone locked in on defense in the second half.
"This was a humongous team effort," Tatum said after the win. "This was an ugly game, especially for the first three quarters. I wasn't shooting the ball well at all, JB started to take over late. Grant, Smart, Al, [Daniel] Theis, [Derrick] White, Payton -- everybody contributed. This was a well-rounded team win. We needed everybody. Everybody who played brought something to the table."
Boston's bruising defense simply wore down Brooklyn over the final 24 minutes, allowing just 42 points. The Celtics outscored the Nets 29-17 in the fourth. Six of those points were Kevin Durant free throws, and five were scored in the final minute when Boston already had the win in its back pocket.
The Celtics continued to bully Durant each time up the floor, holding the superstar to just 4-for-17 shooting. He was 0-for-5 in the fourth quarter and scored 18 of his 27 points at the free throw line, a product of that vigorous Boston defense that the Celtics will live with. (Though Udoka said 20 freebies were way too many.) Durant hasn't looked comfortable at any point during the first two games, and the Celtics were able to block two of his attempts on Wednesday, something that simply does not happen to the 6-foot-10 midrange assassin.
Durant is now just 13-for-41 in the series.
The Celtics also kept Irving off his game Wednesday night, holding him to 10 points off 4-for-13 shooting. The former Celtic was praising Boston's cohesion after the game, something he said that his Nets sorely lack.
Boston completely pulled the rug out from under the Nets on Wednesday, leaving two of the best players in the league searching for answers. Odds heavily favor the Celtics to advance, though we know a series doesn't really start until a road team wins a game. Boston will get its first crack at doing so Saturday night.
"We just take it one game at a time, and that is all that is important," said Brown. "We can't look ahead or behind, just on what is in front of us. The series isn't over. We won two games on our home court and there is still a lot of basketball to be played... I'm excited for Game 3."
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