It never felt in doubt, but the Brooklyn Nets were at least made to work for it.
Outscoring the Boston Celtics 37-30 in the final frame, the Nets punched their second round ticket with a 123-109 win in Game 5.
The 4-1 series win sets up a mouth watering matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks, but before we look ahead, let's take a look at some of the key points from Game 5.
Big three too much to handle
Averaging 85.9 points between them through four games, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving were back at it in this one.
The trio combined for 83 points, with Harden (30), Durant (25) and Irving (24) once again making it look easy in the combined 27-for-47 shooting display.
As they have throughout the series, the big three relentlessly attacked mismatches to leave the Celtics defence scrambling in what would oftentimes result in a trip to the free-throw line.
Combining to shoot 18-for-21 from the charity stripe, the look of frustration, or perhaps helplessness, on the Boston player's face was evident all night long.
KD from the spot.- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) June 2, 2021
KAI from the spot.
Harden from the spot.
Those are some big threes. pic.twitter.com/4uUTlszfcx
Triple-double for the Beard
Talk about stuffing the stat sheet.
Harden has played facilitator for much of the series and was at his damaging best in Game 5. Finishing with 34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, he also chipped in with two steals and two blocks in a supreme performance.
.@JHarden13 saw daylight and knew he had to THROW. DOWN.- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) June 2, 2021
🎥 @MaimonidesMC Play of the Game pic.twitter.com/jIjyEJvvmo
When he wasn't facilitating, his shot looked unstoppable, knocking down 10 of his 17 attempts from the field while also going 4-for-7 from long range.
With the line, Harden became the first player in Nets' franchise playoff history to record a 30-point triple-double.
James Harden is the first Nets player ever with a 30-point triple-double in the playoffs.- StatMuse (@statmuse) June 2, 2021
2 BLK pic.twitter.com/ky4D8ExRFe
Tatum out of gas?
It's been a long series for Jayson Tatum.
Already without Jaylen Brown, the Celtics once again missed Robert Williams III and Kemba Walker for the second consecutive game, leaving the squad horribly shorthanded at the worst possible time.
Looking exhausted and sore at times during the first half, Tatum still managed to put up 32 points, nine rebounds and five assists, though his efficiency took a hit as he connected on 12 of his 27 shots from the floor.
AT THE 🚨 pic.twitter.com/rQxC3Mpwy9- Boston Celtics (@celtics) June 2, 2021
The offensive toll was obvious for Tatum in the first round, but he also had to carry the load defensively, taking turns on Durant and Harden throughout.
The Nets are a fearful proposition for any team in the league at full health, and with that in mind it's fair to say Tatum never stood a chance despite his individual brilliance at certain points through the five games.
Claxton warming up?
Even without Jeff Green, the Nets often chose to play small in the series, running out Blake Griffin and even Kevin Durant at the five for large segments of play.
With Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez looming large in the next round, there were some flashes from Nic Claxton that suggest he may have a role to play against the Bucks.
With size and length and ability to finish as a lob threat, Claxton provides an option for Brooklyn if they choose to size up. Claxton finished with six points, four rebounds and a block in 12 minutes while fellow big man DeAndre Jordan once again watched from the pine.
Romeo has career-night
21-year-old Celtics guard Romeo Langford provided a rare bright spot for Boston in Game 5, producing a career-high 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting.
Inserted into the starting lineup for Game 4 in the absence of Walker, Langford was thrown straight into the mix as one of the Boston players required to defend one of the big three.
The 14th overall pick in the 2019 draft, Langford will be hoping for good health and greater opportunity in 2021.
The Nets will now have three nights off, before hosting Milwaukee in Game 1 at Barclays Center. The Bucks took the regular season series 2-1.
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