After overcoming a 17-point deficit and coercing Kyrie Irving into the worst postseason performance of his career, Ime Udoka and the Boston Celtics topped Steve Nash and the Brooklyn Nets 114-107 in Game 2 of their best-of-7 series.
Boston leads the opening-round series, 2-0. The Nets will host Game 3, and Game 4 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn; however, Irving’s comments during his postgame media availability Wednesday night were telling, saying the least.
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Kyrie Irving On Ime Udoka: ‘He Has Some Keys in the Treasure Chest’
Irving finished with 10 points in Game 2; he shot 30.8% on 4-of-13 field goal attempts with his eight rebounds and one assist. Kyrie also spent most of his press conference showering Udoka and the Celtics with high praise and reminded reporters of Udoka’s coaching background as Nash’s assistant one season ago.
“Ime knows us really well,” Irving said after Wednesday’s loss. “He coached on our staff last year, so I think he has some keys in the treasure chest that he’s telling those guys. We’ve just got to be better moving forward coming out of that halftime when we have the lead against a great team like Boston. We’ve just got to take advantage of it.”
Brooklyn’s role players such as Bruce Brown (23 points), Seth Curry (16 points), and Nets reserve Goran Dragic (18 points) undoubtedly stepped up offensively in Game 2. However, its star tandem struggled to find their offensive rhythm after halftime, as the Nets watched their 17-point lead slowly disappear. Wednesday night’s 10-point outing represented Kyrie’s lowest point total in a playoff game where he played at least 13 minutes, per Basketball-Reference.com.
Meanwhile, Boston held Durant and Irving to combined 1-of-17 attempts in the second half.
“This late in the season, even though I brought up team cohesion, it is what it is,” Irving said. “We really have to turn the page and learn through our experiences right now. We’re going against a team together for what, the last four, five years. So they don’t have to worry about that. And I don’t want us to worry about it in this series and make excuses on why things are not going right for us. It’s just time to strap up the boots and get the ammo ready.”
Ime Udoka on Celtics’ Second-half Adjustments in Game 2
As for Ime and the Celtics, their defensive stops catapulted their fourth-quarter offense before Jayson Tatum’s dagger 3-pointer with 2:07 left to play opened up a 12-point lead for Boston.
“We spaced them out a little bit differently in the second half and kept their bigs out. So, there’s more space to attack,” Udoka said after Wednesday’s win. “When (Brown) gets downhill, he’s such a powerful, forceful driver that he’s going to either score or make the right play, and he did that in the second half.”
Ime’s adjustment sparked Jaylen Brown’s offense, which erupted for 10 fourth-quarter points while the Celtics outscored their opponent 29-17 in the final frame. Brown finished with a team-high 22 points (9-of-18), six assists, and three steals.
Steve Nash On Nets’ Shortcomings: ‘Learn From it’
He led seven Celtics players who scored double figures, including All-Star Jayson Tatum (19) and Al Horford (16 points).
“It’s a team sport, it’s a team effort, and I think our group’s got a lot of ways where we can improve,” Nash said, per The Athletic, Wednesday night. “It’s important for our group. It’s a new team with a little common experience to go through some of these battles. Learn from it and be able to execute under more pressure.”
The Nets will host the Celtics for Game 3 Saturday night.