The Nets went into Saturday’s playoff opener having to prepare for Jayson Tatum’s offense. After holding the Celtics star mostly in check, now they’re going into Tuesday’s Game 2 needing to brace for Robert Williams III’s defense.
Williams had nine blocks off the bench, one shy of the most in a playoff game since 1984. And the Nets know they’re going to have to be more cognizant of the 23-year-old forward.
“We’ll just be more aware going into Game 2,” Kyrie Irving said. “He’s shifting over every single time on every one of our drives, so we’ve just got to be a little bit smarter. But his timing is amazing.
“It’s great to see a big that’s active in our game, and he challenges you at the rim every single time. So it’s just going to test our IQ for the rest of these games, and we’ve just got to make the right play.”
Williams had been a game-time call with turf toe. He and the other six Celtics who played the heaviest minutes in Game 1 were off Sunday, as were the Nets. Adjusting to his rim protection will be a major Brooklyn focus for Game 2.
“I think too many times we lined him up to go against him, and we did unnecessarily. He was outstanding and then other times [it was us],” Steve Nash said. “He was just great, made big plays, whether it was on the ball, off the ball, used his length and athleticism. But there was times we were a little bit naive at times to go at him unnecessarily in the wrong positions.”
Kevin Durant (32 points, 12 boards) had his 39th career postseason double-double.
Jeff Green finished a plus-14 in 26:32, including a stellar plus-10 in 10:29 fourth-quarter minutes. His defense helped the Nets cool off Tatum, who shot 0-for-6 in the second half.
Green has now appeared in the playoffs for an NBA record-tying seven teams: the Nets, Celtics, Cavaliers, Rockets, Clippers, Grizzlies and Thunder. He’s tied with James Edwards and Nazr Mohammed.
Blake Griffin and Boston’s Kemba Walker finished tied (with Montrezl Harrell) for the NBA lead in charges taken at 22. The Celtic star credits his old coach Maurice Hicks at Rice High School for drilling that into him.
“I take pride in getting another possession for my teammates, sacrificing my body. I’ve been doing that since high school,” Walker said Sunday. “To be honest, my high school coach Moe Hicks, he really instilled that in me, and a lot of the guys I played with growing up. So that’s something I’ve been doing for a very long time.”
The Nets’ Game 1 crowd of 14,391 at Barclays Center was the biggest indoor crowd in the city since the pandemic started. It’s the second biggest for any sporting event, behind the 14,655 the Yankees drew Saturday at the Stadium.
Barclays Center GM Adina Erwin was honored on the cover of the latest Sports Business Journal in an article on 14 women overseeing major arenas and stadiums in the U.S. and Canada.