The Boston Celtics bought fairly the preview of their Christmas Day matchup Friday evening, getting blown out by the Brooklyn Nets, 113-89, on Friday evening at TD Heart.
Oh yeah, one different factor: Kevin Durant is again and the Celtics realize it!
Of their closing preseason sport, the Nets didn’t take their foot off the gasoline pedal, particularly within the first half. From Joe Harris’ lights out taking pictures from deep (4-of-7) to KD’s harmful pull-ups, the Nets piled on 62 first half factors, 22 of which got here off the bench, led by Caris LeVert, who completed the sport with 18 factors in 21 minutes because the second unit chief.
The second half was no completely different. The Nets closed out a powerful third quarter on a Durant slam and an 18-0 scoring run, which lasted a full 4:52. Because the third quarter buzzer sounded, so did the Nets celebrity duo’s preseason shifts.
Durant completed his preseason with 25 factors, six rebounds, three blocks, and two assists in 27 minutes of play whereas Irving added 17 factors to go together with seven rebounds and 5 assists in 28 minutes. The duo shot a mixed 16-of-31 total and 5-of-11 from deep. With one other robust preseason displaying, the duo could not have to log over half-hour for a major variety of video games.
The ten-time All-Star made issues look easy, jamming the ball off drives to the rim, hitting deep three’s and blocking pictures, amongst different issues.
“Kevin and Kai had been nice,” Steve Nash mentioned post-game. “Gave them some extra minutes than it seems. The rhythm regarded good. I believe these guys are in a great place to start out the season. Clearly, not splendid with a brief preseason however contemplating what we’ve been in a position to put collectively right here in 18 days – we are able to’t ask for way more.”
Nash additionally had constructive phrases about Harris who regarded extra aggressive than final 12 months, being prepared to take robust pictures with defenders on high of him.
“He’s a shot maker,” Nash mentioned about Harris. “Such an elite shooter and shoots a excessive proportion – his tempo has been wonderful. Performs at a quick tempo, which makes the protection make fast choices as a result of he’s working round, coming off screens, eliminating the ball rapidly, and prepared to shoot fast pictures. I believe it’s an excellent weapon for us to have and we’re fortunate to have a man together with his taking pictures capability.”
Put up-game, LeVert commented on Durant’s presence as a secondary shot-blocker subsequent to DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen, noting that it makes life a lot simpler on the remainder of Brooklyn’s protection.
“We now have three elite rim protectors,” mentioned Caris. “KD, DJ, and JA. For us on the perimeter, it permits us to be extra aggressive within the passing lanes, extra aggressive on switching and simply keying in on key gamers as a result of we all know on the rim, we have now these three guys. That’ll be big for us all 12 months.”
Skip Bayless, cynic that he’s, was impressed.
I simply watched Kevin Durant block his third shot, dribble the ball up, pull up for a straightforward three. 25 factors in 3 quarters. And I am considering, who on this planet is best than this man? Think about how completely different the Bubble playoffs would’ve been if KD had been wholesome. LeGone James.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) December 19, 2020
Durant mentioned merely, “I bought excessive expectations for myself. I maintain myself to a excessive customary.”
With the superstars sitting the fourth quarter, the Nets continued to indicate their depth to complete the job.
The Celtics had been quick Kemba Walker and Tristan Thompson and their younger duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown couldn’t make up for the losses. They completed with a mixed 35 factors, however Brown was a -21 in +/-. Mixed, they went 3-of-16 from deep. The Celtics shot a depressing 8-of-45, 17.8 p.c from past the arc and solely 32-of-92 total, 34.8 p.c. Jeff Teague, filling in for Walker, completed with 5 factors and no assists and a -24 +/-.
Now, let’s dive into some movie.
We’re not going to go extremely in-depth tonight (or Saturday morning, relying on whenever you’re studying this) with nuanced evaluation and detailed play-by-play breakdown. That’s for tomorrow.
Right here’s what you need to know in regards to the Nets offense––a really exceptional unit already––via two exhibition video games. The group ran an excessive amount of its pick-and-roll units for Kyrie Irving with a wide range of screeners: DeAndre Jordan, Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris, Kevin Durant (to my chagrin!), plus extra. When Durant clutches the rock, Brooklyn has paid homage to The Reaper’s Golden State roots, working loads of split-cuts (once more, extra on this tomorrow in a full-scale movie research). In any other case, they performed quick, utilized transition possessions to get Brooklyn’s shooters open, and took benefit of inserting the ball in Caris LeVert’s arms off the bench.
Okay, now onto the enjoyable stuff.
Get used to this: Kevin Durant blocking pictures (this one from behind the three-point line), taking on the ball himself, and dropping devastating daggers within the hearts of his opponents. Un-stopp-able. Put a middle on KD in transition? Too sluggish. A wing? Too small, no means he can adequately contest. That is simply unfair.
And, says KD, he’s simply getting began.
“I really feel stable. I really feel like I can positively get higher. I bought excessive expectations for myself. I maintain myself to a excessive customary, and I really feel like I’ve bought an extended method to go.”
Right here, Caris LeVert and Landry Shamet pretend some “pistol” motion, a play by which the ball-handler (LeVert on this scenario) usually dribbles towards the sideline, the place he’s met by a fringe participant who units a display screen. However then, LeVert detours away from the play, noticing that Marcus Sensible is enjoying too far again within the paint. Caris reroutes on the fly and makes use of the Jarrett Allen display screen to pull-up from deep for the highest of the important thing three-ball that he’s slowly however absolutely mastered.
Pristine read-and-react offense. Improvisation at its best.
Right here’s what Kyrie Irving needed to say about Joe Harris.
“After we first bought Joe in Cleveland, he was simply common Joe. Now he’s bought a tattoo, lengthy hair, and he’s taking pictures the crap out of the ball… He’s a flamethrower, man.”
I imply, c’mon. That’s gold.
Pregame, Boston Celtics guard and former teammate of Kyrie, Marcus Sensible, directed type phrases Irving’s means. Courtesy of Brian Lewis, right here’s what the Oklahoma State product needed to say:
“When you could have a participant of the caliber of Kyrie’s expertise, every thing modified. The convention will get higher, the division will get higher, the group they’re on will get higher. Everyone knows what Kyrie’s able to.”
Look, as hoop followers, it’s straightforward to permit the aggressive nature of this league to construct emotions of vitriol––some uber-passionate “sports activities hate”––in direction of different groups and gamers. However it is a nice reminder that, on the finish of the day, these guys are part of the identical fraternity––they’re brothers, carving out the identical winding paths throughout their rigorous journeys to and all through the NBA.
We should always love and have fun these items as a lot as we recognize the drama and fiery aggressive spirit that comes with that. There’s no laborious emotions between Irving and his former teammates. You like to see it.
…Then again, whereas vibes could also be good––nice, even––between Irving and his former brothers in inexperienced, Kyrie could not really feel the identical means in regards to the enviornment (and its followers) that housed his celebrity abilities not way back.
Earlier than tip-off, Irving strolled round TD Backyard with a bundle of sage in hand and, nicely, take a look for your self.
Unhealthy vibes, be gone!
Put up-game, Irving defined the ritual and talked about how he feels that the group just isn’t but dialed in (Scary!)
We now have ourselves an early contender for “greatest Nets meme of the 12 months.” Might many extra go via these digital doorways.
Elie Okobo, the 6’3” French guard signed three days in the past, wasn’t with the group in Boston Friday evening. Okobo, taken at No. 31 within the 2018 NBA Draft, performed the final two years for Phoenix however was waived final month. Though signed to an Exhibit 10 coaching camp deal, French media reported Friday that he hopes to win a two-way cope with the Nets. The Nets presently have a gap on the two-way. Jeremiah Martin, who performed nicely for the Nets within the “bubble,” is on the second 12 months of a two-year, two-way deal.
Alex Shiffer and Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Friday night that the Nets claimed Paul Eboua off waivers. Eboua’s identify was linked to the Nets in a number of mock drafts together with his identify hovering over the group’s late second spherical decide…
Eboua performed for VL Pesaro Italy abroad, enjoying in a complete of 18 video games. Standing at 6’8” with an eye-popping wingspan of seven’3,” Eboua’s bodily instruments match the mould of a younger NBA participant.
The 20-year-old is greatest identified for his sport on the protection finish. With this size, Eboua has the power to protect a number of positions. Though the highlight of his sport is on the defensive finish. Eboua’s offensive sport has been critiqued, particularly his taking pictures mechanics.
In these 18 video games, Eboua averaged 7.4 factors and 5.3 rebounds in 21.6 minutes per sport. An space of his sport that wants enchancment is taking pictures. He shot 25.8 p.c from deep and solely 62.5 p.c from the charity strike.
As for roster information, Sean Marks famous in an interview with WFAN Thursday, the Nets roster is but to be finalized, noting how the depth of his tea, qcomes as an enormous profit for the lengthy highway forward.
“It’s most likely fairly shut,” he mentioned of the roster. “I don’t suppose something is ever performed, and we’re by no means going to only sit again and relaxation; we have now to proceed to observe your complete group. We’re deep, however we may have that this 12 months to deal with unsure circumstances. It advantages us to have so many guys ready within the wings to select up slack and struggle for his or her roles on this group.”
In reality, anticipate strikes Saturday. If gamers don’t clear waivers by Monday, a prorated quantity of their wage goes on the cap. Waivers take 48 hours so to keep away from useless cash on the books, groups will request waivers on Saturday.
In an interview preview with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on the ALL THE SMOKE podcast, Amar’e Stoudemire opened up about his new alternative with the Nets. For him, he didn’t see the chance coming however couldn’t go it up.
“It was loopy,” Stoudemire mentioned. “The preliminary factor began out with me enjoying abroad so I went over to China for a couple of months then to Israel. Completed up over there. Obtained the chip and Finals MVP after which COVID occurred. Moved again to Miami and was right here for some time then I bought a job with the Nets. It has been a reasonably good 12 months for me to date.”
It got here out of left discipline. I by no means considered teaching. Clearly, I’ve my youth applications in Florida so I’ve been concerned with grass roots and Nike since 2005. I’ve been making an attempt to develop younger gamers and assist my expertise academy camp yearly, which can also be with Nike all through the years. I’ve at all times been in that participant improvement area however by no means thought I’d be a coach with an NBA group.”
Most notably, the Nets participant improvement assistant praised the Nets celebrity duo.
“It has been thrilling,” Stoudemire mentioned. “Watching these boys in coaching camp, how they get after it, how they compete, each of them play at a excessive degree, each of them wholesome, and I’ve actually by no means seen two gamers this good earlier than. I’ve skilled a whole lot of gamers, performed with a whole lot of gamers, and been round for a very long time however, I’ve by no means seen two gamers nearly as good as Kyrie and KD.”
As for his function, Stoudemire famous how he’s an on and off the courtroom coach, targeted on creating the Nets younger expertise’s sport. He lets Nash deal with the conditions and programs of participant improvement.
“I go away it to Steve to deal with all these participant improvement programs and conditions that is happening with the group,” Stoudemire mentioned. “What I’ve skilled to date is that everybody has nice chemistry. Everybody has an excellent vibe, targeted on the objectives, and I’m simply doing my half as that vocal man as nicely, serving to them out with improvement. If any guys want any assist alongside the way in which to bettering their expertise – I’m at all times obtainable for that. I’m at all times giving them sport. Whether or not it’s on the courtroom sport or off the courtroom sport. They recognize it.”
As for reuniting together with his former MVP level guard, Stoudemire notes it as a ‘nice environment’ and reminds him usually of the 2’s reminiscences again throughout their time with the Phoenix Suns.
“Man, it’s only a enjoyable environment to be sincere with you,” Stoudemire mentioned about working with Steve Nash. “Steve and I’ve a relationship that we constructed again in Phoenix and now to be again with Steve and seeing him now as a coach and being again within the locker room, it jogs my memory of the occasions we had again in Phoenix. It’s a nice environment for the each of us.”
Stoudemire additionally revealed his nickname for his former group and now head coach: “Two-time” as in two-time MVP.
The Nets will return house to the (possibly revamped?) Barclays Heart to host the Golden State Warriors for the NBA’s official common season opener. The matchup marks the primary time Durant will probably be lively to face his former group in a Nets uniform. It’s all however anticipated that it’ll be all arms on deck for the Nets, as they give the impression of being to start out the season out 1-0.
Recreation ideas off Tuesday, Dec. 22 at 7:00PM EST.