Nets lose in Game 1 to Celtics on Jayson Tatum buzzer-beater

BOSTON — The Nets squandered a brilliant outing from Kyrie Irving and watched as Jayson Tatum stole Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Tatum’s cutting layup, with Irving defending, just hit the final buzzer to defeat Brooklyn 115-114 in front of a sell-out crowd of 19,156 that shook and rocked TD Garden.

Irving was unbeatable in Sunday’s return to Boston, scoring a game-high 39 points. But the Nets squandered it in a heated matchup in which the Celtics fans jeered, booed and cursed Irving from the start and the All-Star gave them the finger after a 3-pointer in the third quarter.

“I wouldn’t say we want to avoid them in any way,” Irving said ahead of the series. “This is the best part of history that could be written. We’re going up against Boston and we have a chance to redeem ourselves [for a shaky regular-season]. You have a healthy team, we have a healthy team; now we get to see who is [better].”

The Celtics were a game better on Sunday.

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum celebrates the game-winning basket as Nets guard Kyrie Irving looks on during the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs at TD Garden April 17, 2022 in Boston.
Celtics forward Jayson Tatum celebrates the game-winning basket while Nets guard Kyrie Irving looks on.
Getty Images
Celtics forward Jayson Tatum shoots the ball to win the game against the Nets during Game 1 of the first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs April 17, 2022 at TD Garden in Boston.
Celtics forward Jayson Tatum hits the game winner on the buzzer.
NBAE via Getty Images

Irving had carried the Nets back from a 15-point deficit in the third quarter and a nine-point hole in the fourth. He gave them a 107-102 lead with 5:30 to play, but they couldn’t hold it.

Boston finished on a 13-7 run.

With the game tied at 109-all, Kevin Durant (23 points) got a shooter’s bouncer to play on a 13-foot baseline turnaround with 1:20.

Boston big man Al Horford’s put-back even pulled the game with 59 seconds remaining. But Irving drilled a huge 3-pointer 14 seconds later, sending the Celtics into a timeout.

Nets guard Kyrie Irving watches his shot in the second quarter of Game 1 against the Celtics.
Nets guard Kyrie Irving watches his shot.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Jaylen Brown’s layup cut Brooklyn’s lead to one with 38 seconds remaining, and after Durant missed a forced 3-pointer as the shot clock ran out, Tatum (31 points) did the rest.

“Yeah, you know, it’s a bit random at this point,” Steve Nash said. “They pushed it instead of calling a time-out. I think we took away the first action with Brown went to [Marcus] Clever.

“I thought we were smart on that side of the action, but he got into a rift and kind of found Tatum making a smart cut. So you know, split seconds here and there and the game goes the other way.

Nash didn’t think Irving would be affected, positively or negatively, by the crowd’s reaction to his return to TD Garden.

“I’ve never really thought about it in that way. You go and play ball and play hard and try to win the game. I don’t think you’re really worried about the fans,” Nash said. “The fans are part of the game. I feel like it’s such a part of your career that you don’t worry about the fans.

“You go into the game worrying about performance. I’m not worried about Kyrie. Young players get their feet wet in this scenario, and some of it is a process. But if you’ve been there a few times, Kyrie has been here a few times. He’s been here literally dozens of times in the playoff sense and in hostile environments. It’s not like I really think that has a huge impact on Kyrie.”

It was still at 63 – all a minute into the third quarter before Brooklyn conceded nine unanswered points. Marcus Smart capped the Celtics sprint to put Boston ahead 72-63.

Nets guard Kyrie Irving is fouled in the second quarter of Game 1 against the Celtics.
Nets guard Kyrie Irving is fouled in Game 1 against the Celtics.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Brooklyn’s deficit swelled to 84-69 after Tatum’s free throws were 6:06 left in the quarter. The Nets were still down 98-89 after Tatum’s 10:36 free throw, but then they rebounded by ripping off 13 unanswered points.

Irving brought them back, his layup drew Brooklyn within 98-97. And after a frantic succession of bodies flying all over the court, the point guard found Durant for a green 3-pointer.

Brooklyn led by two, and Irving’s layup made it 102-98 before Jaylen Brown’s baseline dunk finally broke the Nets run.

A smart driving layup tied it again, playing at 107-all with 3:16. That’s when the real drama began. Nets lose in Game 1 to Celtics on Jayson Tatum buzzer-beater


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