Boston Celtics, Horford defeat Nets 112-104: Recap and Analysis

Boston Celtics Al Horford (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Boston Celtics Al Horford (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Boston Celtics defeated the Brooklyn Nets at home on Monday, 112-104. They are now 31-19 on the season.

The Boston Celtics came into Monday night’s matchup with the Brooklyn Nets still reeling after their nailbiting loss against the Golden State Warriors two nights before. The Celtics, having just had their 10-game home winning streak snapped by the champs, looked to rebound against sixth-placed Brooklyn, but had to do so without Kyrie Irving, who was dealing with a hip issue.

The Celtics were played close by the Nets in a game of runs that looked like it could go either way. The C’s were able to pull off the win on the back of some dominant defense by Al Horford 112-104. Here’s how it happened:

Celts started the game a little sluggish, seemingly struggling with both the adjustment on offense from Kyrie Irving to Terry Rozier and the heavy dose of zone defense the Nets were showing early on; or perhaps they were distracted by the huge news that Anthony Davis has demanded a trade from the Pelicans.

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The Celtics relied on their 3-point game early to bust the zone, and it worked extraordinarily – 3 of the first 4 scores for the Celtics were 3-point baskets, and they raced to an early lead. That is, of course, before the Nets showed why the league should be taking them seriously and clawed it back to a six-point deficit by quarter time.

The Celtics came into the 2nd quarter lethargically, surrendering a 7-0 run to the Nets who looked to close the gap early. The C’s reserves struggled mightily against the Nets bench until some heroics from Smart and Baynes injected energy into the line-up.

After trading blows with the Nets for a majority of the quarter, the C’s ripped off a 14-2 run energized by their defense, including five huge blocks from Al Horford and the ball movement which helped to counter the zone that the Nets continued to lean on throughout the half. By the end of the second period, the Celts led by 10.

Celts opened the 3rd quarter with a 10-point lead but relaxed on the defensive end, surrendering another big run from the Nets who cut the deficit to 1 by the end of the quarter. D’Angelo Russell had himself a quarter to remember with a personal 9-0 heat check run from long distance and 14 total points for the quarter.

Al Horford tried to will the momentum back Boston’s way with energy and fire that is rarely seen from the big man, he picked up his first technical foul of the season after barking at the refs for a missed call; but looked engaged and active as he came one block shy of his career high with six.

The Nets, however, continued to press the advantages they had chipping away at the lead as their bench outscored the Celtics’ reserves 43-31, and their size kept them in the game with a ten-point lead in second-chance points. Heading into the final term of play, the C’s lead had been cut to one.

The final quarter was all Celtics. The Nets, who were shorthanded after dealing with an unfair stretch of injuries, sat D’Angelo Russell for most of the fourth quarter, and the Nets offensive well dried up.

Jaylen Brown led the way for the Celts, engineering a big 8-0 run for the Celtics who regained control of the game. The 3rd year forward from Cal finished the game with 21 points on 9 for 16 shooting, which included 3 for five from behind the arc; Brown continues to be inconsistent but has shown flashes of the breakout star Celtics fans adored during their playoff run.

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The Boston Celtics were challenged at points but looked the superior team for much of the game, as they avenged their earlier loss to the Nets. The Celts close out this five-game home stretch with a match against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday.