Ultimately, Game 1 went exactly how many expected it to at Barclays Center on Saturday night as the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Boston Celtics by double-digits, 104-93, to get their postseason going on the right foot.
However, an underwhelming display on the offensive side of the ball left plenty to be desired as the Nets shot 41% from the field and 23% from beyond the arc. It was even worse in the first half as the Nets fell behind by as many as 12 while starting the game just 1-of-13 from three-point range.
Obviously, head coach Steve Nash indicated that his team can shift into another gear in the first round against Boston.
“We didn’t play well offensively,” Nash said. “Some of it was shotmaking, some of it was cohesion, some of it was just, I think, first time out, in the playoffs, with fans, the atmosphere was unbelievable.”
It was that atmosphere — featuring 14,391 fans at Barclays Center which was the biggest indoor crowd in New York since the COVID-19 pandemic — that apparently had an initially detrimental impact on the Nets out of the gate.
“In that first half, shots just didn’t go in,” star guard James Harden said. “Maybe I’m speaking for myself, but the crowd kind of just threw me off a little bit. It was pretty loud in there. The vibe was what we’ve been missing, and it just threw me off a little bit.
“That second half, we got more comfortable, and shots started to fall when we needed it to.”
It was the Nets’ defense, which is considered by many to be the team’s weakest aspect, that kept them in it early on, limiting the Celtics to just 40 points in the first half.
“I think once your energy is focused on the defensive side of the ball it will start to turn for you,” Nash said. “You’ve seen that for us in the second half and we picked it up offensively, but our defense was the reason why.”
Given the firepower that the Nets have in Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving, it’s only a matter of time before Brooklyn’s attack found its rhythm. Durant finished Game 1 with a game-high 32 points, Irving added 29, and Harden chipped in with 21.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn allowed just one Celtics scorer — Jayson Tatum — to eclipse the 20-point mark.
“We didn’t want to stop being aggressive because we missed shots,” Nash said. “We tried to tell everybody to just keep being aggressive and those shots are going to fall. But we have to keep getting stops and we was able to get stops and rebounds and not let them get too many extra possessions.”
Game 2 in Brooklyn tips off on Monday night at 7:30 p.m. ET.