It was an awful sports night in New York on Friday, and the Brooklyn Nets were a big reason why as they squandered a 15-point first quarter lead en route to a humbling loss against the shorthanded Boston Celtics in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series.
The Nets had every chance to drop the hammer on what was left of Boston’s spirit, but an inability to stop Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart on the defensive end of the floor has given the Celtics new life before they welcome 17,000 fans into TD Garden for Game 4 on Sunday.
Despite all that. Despite an off shooting night from Kyrie Irving, who might’ve been feeling the effects of being jeered every time he touched the ball (leave it to opportunistic Boston fans to cuss out a former two-time All-Star, right? And despite letting Tristan Thompson absolutely bully them on the boards, this loss was actually the best thing that could’ve happened to the Nets.
Before you call us or delusional, hear us out for a moment.
Here’s how the Nets’ Game 3 loss can be viewed as a positive.
Let’s start by saying that we would much rather be writing about a win than a loss. Putting this series to bed in four games would’ve been awesome so guys like Kevin Durant and James Harden, who missed a combined 65 games due to injury this season, could bank extra rest before they presumably lock horns with the Bucks in the next round.
However, this defeat could serve as the wake-up call the Nets needed after they dominated the first two games of the series.
After all, the Bucks likely await in Round 2 and their demolition of Miami — they won the first three games by a combined 65 points and look poised to complete the sweep — proves they aren’t the same team from the last few years who dominated regular season play only to fizzle out in the early rounds of the playoffs.
The last thing the Nets need before facing the Bucks is dealing with potential complacency after mopping the floor with the Celtics. Maybe getting kicked in the teeth instead of sweeping Boston without breaking a sweat was just what the doctor ordered.
We’d feel the same way had the Nets won, too, by the way. This was a dogfight until the final buzzer sounded and overcoming that adversity, which they largely haven’t faced in this series, will only prove to benefit them in the long run this postseason.
While we obviously would’ve rather seen Brooklyn come out on top, fans shouldn’t overreact to this defeat. Not only did they need a reality check before things get more difficult in Round 2 (assuming they advance) and potentially beyond, but we’re not counting on Tatum to perform like that again. The same can be said about Irving.