Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics try to even up their Best-of-7 series with the Brooklyn Nets with Game 4 Sunday in Beantown. (Photo by Martin Cole/DPPI/Icon Sportswire)
- The Boston Celtics try to even up their series in crucial Game 4 against the Brooklyn Nets
- Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving combined for 96 points in the loss
- Get the odds, preview, and pick below
The Brooklyn Nets showed both their offensive excellence and defensive lapses in Game 3 against the Boston Celtics. In this instance, the former was not enough to cover up the latter.
Instead, the hometown Celts were powered by a Jayson Tatum 50-bomb and a relentless offensive rebounding attack to play their way back into this series, taking a 125-119 win Friday night.
Now a 2-1 Nets series lead, oddsmakers seem to believe Boston caught lightning in a bottle, with Brooklyn set as 7.5-point favorites in the pivotal Game 4 showdown Sunday.
Nets vs Celtics Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|Brooklyn Nets||-7.5 (-110)||-300||Ov 228 (-110)|
|Boston Celtics||+7.5 (-110)||+245||Un 228 (-110)|
Odds as of May 29th. Tip-off is Sunday at 7pm ET
Both teams are missing key big men. Robert Williams left Game 3 with a sprained ankle and did not return. He’s been hampered by turf toe heading into the series, and hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Brooklyn will be down Jeff Green for the rest of this series, after a plantar fascia strain knocked him out for Game 3.
Nets vs Celtics Projected Starting Lineups
|James Harden||PG||Kemba Walker|
|Kyrie Irving||SG||Evan Fournier|
|Joe Harris||SF||Marcus Smart|
|Kevin Durant||PF||Jayson Tatum|
|Blake Griffin||C||Tristan Thompson|
Best of Boston
Talk about a bounce back for Jayson Tatum. After scoring just 31 points on 9-for-32 shooting across the first two games of this series (both losses), the 23-year-old erupted for 50 points on 16-for-30 shooting, including five money balls. Tatum also chipped in with seven rebounds and six assists, while also going 13-for-15 from the free throw line.
50 POINTS AND THE DAGGER. pic.twitter.com/MqlhYyAuQr
— ESPN (@espn) May 29, 2021
But he had major support to knock off the Nets. Marcus Smart and Evan Fournier combined to score 40 points as well, teaming up for nine three-point hits.
Tristan Thompson was a monster on the interior, finishing with 19 points and 13 boards, nine of those on the offensive end. That’s been one of the Celts’ strengths so far: they rate first in offensive rebounding percentage (34.8%) and lead the playoffs with 13 offensive boards and 15 second chance points per game — figures that would rank first in the NBA regular season.
Big time putback from Tristan Thompson. He has 19 points and 13 rebounds (9 offensive) for the Celtics tonight. pic.twitter.com/FdFLFQlzhD
— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) May 29, 2021
If there’s any concern, it may be that Boston’s bench contributed just 10 points — something that’s not such a story since the starters were dominant Friday night.
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Nets Need Complete Effort
This is only the 10th game the trio of James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have played together all season, and their Game 3 numbers were mind-boggling. Harden led the way with 41 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, including a 7-for-12 mark from deep.
KD THROW DOWN 🔨🔨 pic.twitter.com/Dp0qCOeZGY
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) May 29, 2021
Durant was right behind him, looking plain lethal , dropping 39 points, nine rebounds and four dimes. Kyrie Irving had an off-night in his first game in Boston with fans, going just 6-for-17 from the field for 16 points. That’s 96 points for the Brooklyn’s Big 3, and it feels like they left points on the board.
One thing they can find is better balance. The Nets were iso heavy in Game 3, resulting in just 16 assists for the game. For reference, they never dished below 18 dimes in a game all regular season.
𝗚𝗔𝗠𝗘 𝟯 𝗦𝗢𝗨𝗡𝗗 🎙 @SteveNash
“Big challenge for us. We’ve gotta come out and be sharper, be better at both ends of the floor and try to slow them down and execute offensively.” pic.twitter.com/OA5UlndmxF
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) May 29, 2021
Already a thin frontcourt, the loss of Jeff Green and the struggles of youngster Nic Claxton often left Brooklyn undersized with Durant playing the de facto center for stretches. Head coach Steve Nash has already said to expect more time from Claxton going forward. Even then, effort is mainly the reason the Nets started out the game leading 19-4, only to be outscored 121-100 the rest of the way.
What’s the Best Bet?
The Celtics played an absolutely perfect game to win Friday, but they are still severe underdogs in this one. Tatum will need to be dominant, Thompson will need to continue to wreak havoc inside, and their other perimeter guys will have to shoot 40%+ to be competitive in Game 4. That’s a lot to ask.
Expect to see Brooklyn’s stars find the focus to take this important game. The Nets are 14-10 SU as an away favorite, and 15-9 SU after a loss. That loss was their first in eight starts, and dropped them to 7-1 ATS in their last eight. Don’t think they didn’t see the work Milwaukee put in sweeping Miami. Wrapping up this series quickly is a priority.
Pick: Nets -7.5 (-110)
Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgeable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.