The Brooklyn Nets have one foot in the second round.
Behind an utterly dominant performance from their big three of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, the Nets turned the lights off early in this one, cruising to the 141-126 win.
Now leading 3-1 in the series, Brooklyn are rolling as many predicted they would before the series started. Let's jump to some of the takeaways beginning with some unfortunate pregame injury news for the men in green.
Shorthanded Celtics lose duo before tip
As if losing Jaylen Brown wasn't enough prior to the series beginning, the news got worse for Boston prior to Game 4.
Kemba Walker (knee) and Robert Williams III (toe) were unable to take the floor, leaving second-year guard Romeo Langford to be inserted into the starting lineup. Langford only appeared in 18 games during the regular season with averages of 3.1 points, 1.7 rebounds and 0.9 assists.
Even at full strength the Celtics were going to struggle to match the topline talent of the Nets, so they could ill-afford to lose further genuine role players.
In Brown and Walker, Boston lost 44.0 points per game of production.
KD and Kyrie create history
Is there anyone in the league who makes scoring look as easy as KD?
Finishing with 42 points, Durant became the first player in franchise history to score 35+ points in back-to-back postseason games.
🔥 KD doesn't miss in the 3Q 🔥- NBA (@NBA) May 31, 2021
17 PTS | 5-5 FGM | 36 in the game#NBAPlayoffs on TNT pic.twitter.com/rSyzA8Rg8e
Not to be outdone, Kyrie joined in on the fun, pouring in 39 points of his own.
With James Harden tallying 41 points last game, the Nets became the second team in NBA history to have multiple 35-point scorers in consecutive games. They join the 1962 Lakers when Elgin Baylor and Jerry West did it in both games.
The Nets are the 2nd team in NBA history to have multiple 35-point scorers in consecutive games. They join the 1962 Lakers when Elgin Baylor and Jerry West did it in both games. pic.twitter.com/O7UevgJfTc- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 31, 2021
But what about Harden?
If you thought Harden played a bit part role in this one you're sorely mistaken.
The former MVP also feasted on the offensive end, recording 23 points and 18 assists, oftentimes playing facilitator to the scoring rampage of Durant and Irving.
The 18 assists are a playoff career-high, while he also became the first player in franchise history to record a 20-point, 15-assist game.
James Harden is the first Nets player with a 20p/15a playoff game in franchise history.- StatMuse (@statmuse) May 31, 2021
18 AST (2nd most in Nets history)
(Submitted by @Houst0n4L) pic.twitter.com/IT04FXhGWH
When it was all said and done, the trio combined for a staggering 104 of Brooklyn's 141 points on 33-for-56 shooting from the floor and 11-for-20 from beyond the arc.
The trio are now averaging 85.9 points per game in the series.
Tatum plays solo hand
Backing up from his 50-points in Game 3, Tatum was once again tasked with carrying the load for Boston.
Finishing with 40 points on 10-for-22 from the field, it was another impressive performance for the All-Star forward.
Doing his best to target mismatches and take advantage of switches, Tatum worked is way to the free-throw line for hit all 17 of his attempts.
The numbers are going to look good at the end of the series, he simply needs more help.
Too many moves.#PhantomCam #NBAPlayoffs- NBA (@NBA) May 30, 2021
📺: TNT pic.twitter.com/FrwQqaZJXO
Practice your free-throws kids
The Nets went to the free-throw line with regularity throughout the game, making the Celtics defence pay with insane efficiency.
Brooklyn finished the game 29-for-30 from the charity stripe, with the only blemish coming from Harden who finished 5-for-6.
Durant and Irving knocked down all 22 of their combined attempts.
How do you stop Joe Harris?
With so much attention focused on the Brooklyn big three, sharpshooter Joe Harris is continuously left open on the perimeter.
Harris is the perfect compliment to the isolation excellence of Durant, Harden and Irving, with his ability to make the opposition pay for leaving him open simply deadly.
|Wide Open 3PA||Wide Open 3P%|
|Playoffs (Game 1-3)||5-8||62.5|
In Game 4, with the star trio running rampant, Harris continuously ran the floor in transition, spotting up from behind the arc ready to let it fly.
Harris connect on four of his five attempts from long range, adding 14 points to the box score.
It's officially win-or-go-home time for the Boston Celtics.
Game 5 is scheduled for Wednesday, June 2nd. Tip-off is at 5:00 a.m. IST.
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