BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics had no answer for the Nets star trio of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving in Sunday night’s Game 4, and now face a daunting 3-1 series hole with the action heading back to Brooklyn. The odds certainly are stacked against the Celtics keeping their season alive for much longer.
After the Celtics notched their first win over the Nets all season on Friday night, Brooklyn absolutely pummeled the C’s on Sunday in front of a packed TD Garden crowd. The Celtics did own a one-point lead heading into the second quarter, but the Nets made their first nine shots to rip off a 16-6 run and take a nine-point lead. By halftime, Brooklyn’s lead was up to 13, and it ballooned to 27 near the end of the third quarter. The Nets won 141-126 to push Boston’s season to the brink.READ MORE: Celtics Host Six Players For Pre-Draft Workout, Including Auburn's Sharife Cooper And Texas A&M's Jordan Hall
Brooklyn’s three-headed monster was just too much for the Celtics to handle on Sunday, with Durant scoring 42 points and Irving 39, while Harden poured in 23 points and dished out 18 assists. That star trio shot a ridiculous 60 percent from the floor — adding 27 of 28 free throws — on the evening.
To Boston’s credit, the team did not back down at any point. Even as Brooklyn was hitting shot after shot, the Celtics stayed aggressive and continued to fight back. That kind of gusto was absent for much of the regular season, and the Celtics are hoping that it inspires some much better play throughout Game 5 on Tuesday night.
“It was a tough loss. We came out and we fought. They came out and they fought. They executed better than we did and came out with the win,” said guard Marcus Smart, who 16 points, nine assists and six rebounds in Sunday’s loss. “We’re playing against a great team. They have three great players and a great surrounding cast around them. It’s tough, but we have to continue to fight. I’m proud at the way we fought. We didn’t win, but we have another game and another chance to fight even harder.”READ MORE: Jayson Tatum Reportedly Commits To Play For Team USA In Tokyo Olympics
“They’re a really good team and we knew that coming into this series; it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Boston forward Jayson Tatum, who followed up his 50-point game on Friday night with a 40-point showing Sunday. “From game to game it’s about making adjustments and that’s what we’re going to do. Watch film, make the necessary adjustments going into Game 5 and get ready for the next one.”
The Celtics now face a win-or-go-home scenario in Game 5, and the nearly insurmountable task of erasing a 3-1 series deficit. In NBA playoff history, 260 series have gone to 3-1, and in those series, only 13 teams have come back when falling that hole — just five percent.
Such a comeback is extremely rare, though the Denver Nuggets did it twice in the Orlando bubble last year, coming back from 3-1 deficits against both the Utah Jazz and L.A. Clippers. As a franchise, the Celtics have come back from a 3-1 deficit twice; in 1968 and in 1981 — both times against the Philadelphia 76ers.
For the moment, the Celtics aren’t thinking about making a dramatic series comeback. Their focus is set on Tuesday night in Brooklyn.MORE NEWS: Jayson Tatum Snubbed From All-NBA Honors, Misses Out On Big Pay Bump
“The message to the rest of the guys is don’t worry about winning three in a row, just worry about winning the next one,” Tatum said Sunday night. “It’s one game at a time. Just get ready for the next one.”