The Brooklyn Nets championship pursuit is off to a winning start.
It didn't feel like the star studded Brooklyn lineup were firing on all cylinders for much of the night but it hardly mattered, with a big second half powering the Nets home in the 104-93 win.
Without Jaylen Brown, the Celtics appeared short on firepower, finishing with just 40 second half points as the Nets kicked into gear.
Let's jump to some of the takeaways.
Durant moves up on the All-Time list
It wasn't the most efficient night for Kevin Durant in this one, but it hardly mattered, with the superstar forward still managing to rack up 32 points to go along with 12 rebounds.
Scoring 16 points in each half, Durant finished 10-for-25 from the field and just 1-for-8 from long range.
Playing in his 140th postseason game, the 32-year-old Durant moved up on the All-Time postseason scoring list.
Congrats to @KDTrey5 of the @BrooklynNets for moving up to 9th on the all-time #NBAPlayoffs SCORING list! pic.twitter.com/r85YgchuIA- NBA (@NBA) May 23, 2021
Moving by San Antonio Spurs legend Tony Parker, Durant is now ninth on the list with 4,075 postseason points. The logo Jerry West is next in his sights on 4,457 points.
KD somehow survives scary moment
It wasn't all smooth sailing for Durant, who suffered a scary landing during the second quarter.
Driving to the basket in transition, the superstar forward left his feet to finish at the basket with Marcus Smart sliding underneath him to take a charge. Durant went flying through the air, landing flat on his back with his right arm folded up underneath him.
Glad KD's okay after this scary fall. pic.twitter.com/89zkOx6oYo- ESPN (@espn) May 23, 2021
Miraculously he would bounce straight back up and stay on the floor. The incident was the latest example of how the charge can put players in mid-flight in danger. Durant, the Nets and basketball fans around the world caught a break on this one.
Nets struggle from range in the first half
Trailing 53-47 at the half, the Nets couldn't buy a triple. Brooklyn shot just 1-for-13 in the first half from beyond the arc, with Irving, Durant and Harden combining to shoot 0-for-11 from range.
Conversely, the Celtics were on fire, knocking down nine for their 17 attempts, with Marcus Smart drilling three of his five attempts in his 11 first-half points.
The numbers looked slightly better in the second half for Brooklyn, but they ultimately ended the night 8-for-34 (23.5 percent), in a scarily easy area for the Nets to seek immediate improvement from in game two.
In what was a game of two halves, the Celtics languished to hit just 2-for-17 in the third and fourth quarter as the scoring dried up.
Time Lord delivers monster performance
Robert Williams III left it all out on the floor in game one, battling through a turf toe injury in what was his first appearance in two weeks.
The young big man was on triple-double watch late in the game, tallying 11 points, nine rebounds and nine blocks.
The nine blocks set a new Celtics playoff franchise record, eclipsing the previous record of seven by Robert Parish and Kendrick Perkins. It's a remarkable achievement for the 23-year-old when you consider the storied postseason history of the franchise.
Robert Williams III has 7⃣ blocks!#NBAPlayoffs on ABC.. 7:30 left pic.twitter.com/o8gBi56TK1- NBA (@NBA) May 23, 2021
At times appearing hobbled with his sore toe, Williams played down the impact it had on his performance.
"When I'm out there, my adrenaline, the excitement of the game kind of overtakes the pain," Williams said.
Becoming familiar with each other
The Nets went with the starting group of Durant, Irving, Harden, Joe Harris and Blake Griffin, in what was the first time that mix had started a game together.
As for Durant, Irving and Harden, it was just the ninth game they had played with each other.
While the talent is obvious on paper, it would be fair to assume that this group is only going to get better with more time to get acclimatized.
Tatum is going to have to be special
Without running mate Brown, much of the defensive attention is going to focus on Tatum.
Known for taking difficult shots at the best of times, this will only be amplified in this series due to the lack of other credible scoring options on the wing for the Celtics.
Tatum finished with 22 points on 6-for-20 shooting, which won't be nearly enough if Boston holds any hopes of extending this series.
Kyrie's handles are still the best in the business
Irving poured in 29 points on the night, dazzling the fans and viewers with his usual array of ridiculous dribble moves.
First, there was this one that literally brought Evan Fournier to his knees.
KAI went dancin'- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) May 23, 2021
🎥 @MaimonidesMC Play of the Game pic.twitter.com/I09Pvr0uk7
Then there was this one, crossing up Smart before knocking down the smooth jumper.
CRUNCH-TIME KAI. pic.twitter.com/DwLzyHgB5v- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) May 23, 2021
And what about poor rookie Payton Pritchard being left out on Kyrie island.
KYRIE OH MY pic.twitter.com/f0wmFig3Ao- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) May 23, 2021
Irving in full flight really isn't fair.
Game two between Brooklyn and Boston is set for Wednesday morning at 5:00 a.m. IST.
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