In the first two games, the Nets were able to play behind the Brooklyn faithful, and they reigned supreme. It was almost calming to hear the “BROOKLYN!” roar from my television as the Nets marched along towards victory.
Now, the Nets travel to Boston for a Friday night Game 3 against the Celtics. After a 130-108 rout in Game 2, here’s what to look for in Game 3.
Joe Harris Won’t Be That Open Again
It seems like every day, some NBA fan discovers the power of Joe Harris. The Celtics, like a lot of NBA casuals, figured it out after Game 2. Joey Buckets erupted for 25 points on seven 3-pointers in Game 2.
The Celtics struggled with guarding the big three super intensely. Most teams will have the same problem.
If these threes are not guarded effectively, it’s a free basket. After Harris’ 10-point performance in Game 1, the Celtics attempted to have his defender sprint to either Irving, Durant, or Harden, helping out in guarding the ball carrier. This left Harris, the NBA’s regular-season leader in 3-point percentage, wide open from range. The Celtics were absolutely destroyed, putting them behind early as Harris ended the first half with 22 points.
At that point, it was too late to come back. The Nets offense is too powerful to let Joe Harris explode on you.
Unless the Celtics find a quick fix, I assume their defense will be a seesaw.
On one side, you have your defenders taking on the Big 3 one-on-one while forcing them to make a shot (which is not a good strategy against three of the best pure scorers in the world). On the other side of this seesaw is where they help off Harris and force him to shoot wide-open treys.
Either way, without Jaylen Brown, the Celtics won’t be able to effectively defend the Nets without the Nets just missing open shots. After Harris’ electric Game 2, I’m expecting a lighter game from him. Boston has to adjust somehow.
The Big 3 Will Impress Offensively
This seems like a pretty obvious statement. You get three of the best players in the world, and they will obviously perform impressively — but you also can’t guard them all one-on-one for the whole game.
And, now that Boston will be tight on Harris, the Irving-Durant-Harden trio will have their time to shine brighter.
If they have proven anything throughout their careers, it’s that they will probably exceed everyone’s expectations.
Tatum Looking for Revenge
Tatum had to leave Game 2 after getting poked in the eye. Heading home, he’s going to want to drop 50. And he really could.
The Nets need to make sure a lanky above-average defender is on Tatum at all times. Bruce Brown is great, but he’s just too short for Tatum’s fadeaways. Nic Claxton and Durant should stay on Tatum at all times.
Brooklyn is going to be booed in Boston. They must keep their heads high, block out the noise, and perform. They won’t be in Brooklyn, but wherever they play, Brooklyn will be rooting for them.
Prediction: Brooklyn Nets win.