Kyrie (40) subdues the Celtics

The point guard put together a sensational performance and ended Boston's run since before the All Star. The Nets, without Durant, one step away from leading the East.


The Nets return from the All Star just as they left: defeating and convincing, overwhelming rivals of height and those who are not, with a Kyrie in a state of grace and a squad with more and more names but the same result, that of winning . The New Yorkers, after beating Boston, have three consecutive victories and 11 in the last 12 games, which keeps them just half a game from the first place they are, for now, occupying the Sixers at the top of the Eastern Conference. No one can beat them: neither did, in that spectacular streak, teams of the stature of the Lakers or Clippers, nor have the Celtics who were on the mend and had four consecutive victories before the break. Neither seem capable of stopping an opposing team for the ring, their biggest goal, one that people like James Harden or Steve Nash (and Mike D'Antoni, Amar'E Stoudemire ...) have been looking for for a long time. and that they already have Kyrie and the eternal absent, Kevin Durant. When the forward returns we will see the true potential of this entity, but, for now, it seems that talent prevails. And that in the playoffs, we remember, ends up being differential.

The party was not, precisely, devoid of interest. Marcus Smart returned to a basketball court for the first time since January 30 and the greens arrived with a well-deserved rest, that of the All Star, with Jayson Tatum recovered from the side effects of the coronavirus and Jaylen Brown in tune with his partner and without having to bear all the offensive weight on his muscular shoulders. Kemba Walker had also improved his shooting series, which had become a real problem in a streak, that of the Celtics, which had recently taken them to ninth place in the East with a worrying 15-17 record. A streak of four victories before the break (Pacers, Wizards, Clippers and Raptors) gave wings and hope, as well as the rumors that Dannny Ainge, at last, was going to move in the market and that he had Nikola Vucevic at the point of sight. We'll see how that ends (probably the same way it always does), but Boston at least had reason to hope.

He had and has, since without hasty conclusions they are still fourth in the East and with the same staff as at the beginning of the year, when (remember) they were considered aspirants. A great first quarter gave the Celtics an initial lead, which would later come back from their rivals. The initial success of players like Kemba Walker, with 9 points in the first 12 minutes, was later diluted excessively and he only added two more in the next three periods with 1 of 7 in shots from the field. Kyrie, with 12 points without failure in the second quarter, gave the hosts a three-point lead before the long break (58-55), with Kevin Durant dressed for the street and Blake Griffin, the new signing of the team, sitting in the bench next to him. To those 12 he added another 14 in the third period, with the Celtics pushing too hard and placing only 2 points (88-86) before facing the final stretch of the crash. Here Jayson Tatum scored 13 points, who finished with 31 and was the only salvageable of his team in the shot: 13 of 22, with 3 of 7 in triples, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.

And in the fourth quarter, of course, the Nets began to defend. It is not the first time they do it, it remains to be discovered how far they can develop this part of their game when Durant returns and Griffin makes his appearance and in the playoffs they will have to put it into practice throughout the game and not just in a small part of it. . But there they were, leaving Boston with 23 measly goals, below 43% in field shots and just 25% in triples, hammering their rivals with the few minutes that Landry Shamet, Tyler Johnson or Nicolas Claxton played and with a ability to force mistakes that at the beginning of the season seemed like a chimera. Kyrie added 8 points and went to 40, with 15 of 23 from the field, 5 of 8 on triples and 5 of 5 from the personal, in addition to adding 8 rebounds and 3 assists to his statistic. Brooklyn started the fourth quarter with a 12-4 run that gave them double digits ahead and dominated the match from there, ending the visitors' attempts, who went to two with less than four minutes to go (108- 106), to trace the match. A vandeja by Harden and a triple by, of course, Kyrie, dispelled doubts.

In addition to Irving, who is averaging more than 27 points per game this season and has posted his second performance of 40-plus points, the Nets had four other players over ten. This time, the trigger was not the playmaker James Harden, who added 22 + 10 + 8 with a bad series of shots (6 of 16). But for bad, that of Jaylen Brown, who had a game to forget: 13 goals with 5 of 23 in field goals and 3 of 12 in triples. Smart returned protesting and haranguing the team as only he knows how to do, in addition to contributing in attack (19 points and well from the launch). But nobody could with a Nets that continue to run as the main favorites to win a championship that is difficult to predict (in times of coronavirus, everything is) and that has many nuances to analyze. And among all of them emerges, of course, a team made up of impressive stars who seek redemption and, at the same time, vindication. Talent wins championships. We'll see if the Nets certifies that variant. At the moment, 25-13, excellent sensations and to fly.

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