No one symbolized the physicality of Boston’s Game 1 matchup against Brooklyn, better than Jaylen Brown.
With the game on the line, Jaylen Brown had both nostrils filled with cotton to stop the bleeding as the blood still managed to seep through and on occasion, led to a brief stoppage of play in the fourth.
But he soldiered on, the kind of image that was a reflection of the Celtics as they fought through a near-fourth quarter collapse to escape with a buzzer-beating 115-114 victory over Brooklyn with Jayson Tatum scoring the game-winning lay-up with no time to play.
It was Tatum’s first game-winning, buzzer-beater.
Setting up the game-winning basket was Marcus Smart, who could have pulled up for a potential game-winner, but instead decided to split a double-team to find Tatum cutting to the basket for the game-winning lay-up.
Tatum’s game-winning basket overshadowed what had been a brilliant performance by former Celtic Kyrie Irving who led all scorers with 39 points.
Boston now has a 1-0 series lead with Game 2 on Wednesday at the TD Garden.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s Game 1 victory.
Jayson Tatum: He began the game looking to get his teammates involved, racking up a bunch of assists. Then he looked for his shot more, shots were falling and before you know it, Tatum messed around and had a near double-double of 31 points, eight assists along with four rebounds.
Kyrie Irving: His offense was instrumental in keeping the Nets afloat early on as well as in the fourth quarter. He finished with a game-high 39 points on 12-for-20 shooting to go with six assists, five rebounds and four steals.
Marcus Smart: His elite play defensively speaks for itself. But Smart made his mark at both ends of the floor in Game 1, playing strong defense most of the game while also chipping in 18 points with a quartet of 3-pointers and of course, delivering the most important assist of his career in the closing second for the win.
Al Horford: The primary benefactor for the Celtics’ heavy emphasis on ball movement to start the game, was Al Horford. He would tally a double-double of 20 points and 15 rebounds, with 10 of those points coming in the first quarter.
Goran Dragic: Most of the Brooklyn bench performed well, but Dragic’s play really stood out. He scored 17 points, connecting on 6-of-11 shooting from the field..
Kevin Durant: It wasn’t the typical KD performance, with him having had more turnovers than field goals made for most of the game. He would finish the game with a respectable 23 points, but did so on 9-for-24 shooting and had just five points in the pivotal fourth quarter while finishing the game with six turnovers.
Grant Williams: He has been one of the more consistent performers off the Celtic bench this season. But far too often in Game 1, Williams did not make the most of his opportunities to positively impact the game. He scored seven points on 3-for-7 shooting and had more problems than usual as a defender which can be seen in Boston being minus-17 when he was on the floor..