BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Celtics opened up to full capacity just in time for the local fans to jeer and swear at Kyrie Irving every time he touched the ball.
It might be their last chance.READ MORE: First Afghan Refugees Arrive In Massachusetts
Irving had 39 points and 11 rebounds to quiet the first post-pandemic full house at the TD Garden, and Kevin Durant scored 42 points to give the Brooklyn Nets a 141-126 victory over Boston on Sunday night and a 3-1 lead in the first-round playoff series.
James Harden added 23 points and a career postseason-high 18 assists for Brooklyn. Game 5 is in New York on Tuesday night, when the Nets will try to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since 2014.
Jayson Tatum scored 40 points for the Celtics, following up his 50-point effort in a Game 3 victory. But with Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker out with injuries, Tatum couldn’t save the season on his own.
Marcus Smart had 16 points and nine for the Celtics, who reached the Eastern Conference finals in three of the previous four seasons. This year’s team flirted with a top seed early on and still was in position to host a first-round series well into April before losing 10 of their last 15 games and falling into the play-in game.
After dropping the first two games in Brooklyn, the Celtics were hoping their home crowd would help them make a series of it. Tatum delivered one win in front of a quarter-capacity crowd on Friday, before the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted as of Saturday.
The Bruins had 17,400 for their playoff game against the Islanders on Saturday — the biggest crowd in the NHL this season. The Celtics left several rows around the benches empty on Sunday and officially announced a sellout crowd of 17,226, about 1,500 fewer than the building’s official capacity.
The fans — most of them attending their first home playoff game in more than two years — gave Durant the New York Yankees treatment in pregame warmups, chanting his name derisively and cheering for each missed practice shot. They were even more foul-mouthed toward Irving, who professed his love for Boston and the Celtics before opting out of his contract in 2019 to join the Nets.
But it wasn’t enough to make up for the absence of Walker and Brown.READ MORE: Car Crashes Into Allston Auto Body Shop, Damaging Building
The Celtics scored the first six points of the game and led by as many as nine in the first but the Nets erased that before the end of the quarter. Durant had 17 in the first and Tatum had 14, setting the foundation for a star shootout.
But the second was all Brooklyn.
Harden threw in 15 points with six assists in the quarter, and Irving scored 11 to help the Nets pull away, turning a 34-33 deficit at the start of the quarter into a 45-37 lead. They made it a 13-point game at the half.
Tatum was scoreless in the second. He responded with 18 points in the third quarter but Durant had 17 to help the Nets open a 27-point lead.
By the middle of the fourth, the fans were chanting for 7-foot-5 Tacko Fall to enter the game.
Nets: Durant’s 17 points were the most in the first quarter for a Net since Kenyon Martin’s 17 in Game 4 of the 2002 NBA Finals against the Lakers. … The Nets had 100 points through three quarters of a playoff game for just the second time in history. They also did it on Friday night.
Celtics: Walker (knee) and Robert Williams III (ankle) sat out after playing in the first three games of the series, joining Brown (season-ending wrist surgery) on the injury report.MORE NEWS: Gov. Baker Calls For Action Towards Ending Nurses' Strike At St. Vincent Hospital
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