Skip to content
  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics fans boo Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving as he takes a free throw during the 3rd quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics Al Horford and Jayson Tatum and Brooklyn Nets' Goran Dragic watch as Tatum's buzzer beating winning shot drops into the basket during the 4th quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum reacts after hitting a buzzer beating winning shot as Brooklyn Nets guard Goran Dragic looks on during the 4th quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum reacts after hitting a buzzer beating winning shot as Brooklyn Nets guard Goran Dragic looks on during the 4th quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum reacts after hitting a buzzer beating winning shot during the 4th quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum reacts after hitting a buzzer beating winning shot during the 4th quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum celebrates with Derrick White after hitting a buzzer beating winning shot during the 4th quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum celebrates with Derrick White after hitting a buzzer beating winning shot during the 4th quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Jayson Tatum celebrates with his Boston Celtics teammates after hitting a buzzer beating winning shot during the 4th quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Jayson Tatum celebrates with his Boston Celtics teammates after hitting a buzzer beating winning shot during the 4th quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant drives past Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart during the 3rd quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart drives past Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving during the 4th quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown Drives past Brooklyn Nets' Andre Drummond, Bruce Brown and Seth Curry and during the 3rd quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum reacts after sinking a three pointer during the 3rd quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum drives past Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant during the 3rd quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum tries to drive to the basket past Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant during the 4th quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Browndrives to the basket between Brooklyn Nets' Nic Claxton and Kyrie Irving during the 4th quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown stuffs the ball during the 4th quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown stuffs the ball during the 4th quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum looks pass over the head of Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving during the 4th quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durantdrives past Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum during the 4th quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown grabs a rebound defended by Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant during the 2nd quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart drives past Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving during the 1st quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving puts up a shot from the three point territory defended by Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart during the 1st quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum reaches outdoor a pass defended by Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant during the 1st quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • (041722 Boston, MA): Brooklyn Nets forward Nic Claxton and Boston Celtics center Al Horford battle for a rebound during the 1st quarter of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

of

Expand
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

In a first-round game that had the hype and energy of the conference finals, the Celtics and Nets rose to new heights for a Game 1 in mid-April.

The unsavory tone remains unchanged, as evidenced by the middle finger Kyrie Irving flashed at a fan after hitting a corner 3-pointer in the third quarter after a night of blistering boos from his former, unerringly hateful home crowd.

The friction only made Irving stronger, obviously. But despite his 39 points, including an 18-point fourth and 6-for-10 3-point shooting, the Celtics took the series opener, courtesy of a buzzer-beating layup from Jayson Tatum for a 115-114 win.

The Garden erupted, naturally. Tatum, whose 31-point, eight-assist performance led an attack that found three other Celtics breaking the 20-point barrier, later called it the loudest he’s ever heard in this building, especially with the electric charge that shot through the crowd as the buzzer sounded.

And after a season that started so poorly and slowly, there really couldn’t have been another result.

“It was fulfilling for us, especially because of the way we started this year off, those types of games, we lost. We were probably crumbling,” said Marcus Smart. “And for a moment there, it kind of looked like that was the direction it was going.

“But the resilience that we have, the approach we have, and the work we put in to make sure that doesn’t happen,” said the Celtics point guard. “And you just learn. Unfortunately we had a lot of games to learn from with those types of incidents. So we just wanted to make sure that’s not how we were going down and everybody did their jobs and we did it to the best we could do it and everybody helped one another and we came out with the win.”

And everything about that last possession shows why the Celtics have advanced so far from the isolation-oriented, under-performing group of last December.

Irving, in Smart’s words “too comfortable” as the game went on, had just hit the last of four fourth quarter 3-pointers with 45.9 seconds left for a 114-111 lead. It wasn’t the first time one of Irving’s bombs triggered a Celtics timeout in the fourth — a timeout with 5:20 left was more spirited and frustrated — but this was the last.

The Celtics came out of the timeout with a Jaylen Brown drive that cut the Brooklyn lead to a point with 38.9 seconds left, and when Tatum pressured Kevin Durant into a 27-foot miss that fell short of the backup, Derrick White immediately drove up the floor, giving it up to Brown, who passed up a jumper.

Brown instead dished left to Smart, who passed up a semi-open jumper, split a double team, and dished to Tatum, who had spun off Irving for a backdoor cut, beating the buzzer. A year ago Smart most likely would have taken the shot. His teammates certainly thought that’s where he was headed.

“Honestly, I think we all thought Smart was going to shoot it,” said Tatum. “So last-second shot, just crash the glass. If it doesn’t go in, try to make a play. But when he took that dribble, we just kind of made eye contact and he made a great pass. I just had to make the layup.

“I think it just shows the progression of our team, how far we’ve come from Game 1. In those first two months, obviously we were average and we were struggling. And we’ve just been playing the right way these last couple of months. And that’s a reason why we’ve been so successful, especially in big moments. It’s all about just trying to make the right play.”

After leading by as many as 15 points in the third quarter, and trailing by as many as five in the fourth after the Nets opened the quarter with a 17-2 run, Smart simply maintained composure with the clock running down.

“First off you’ve got to credit Ime for trusting us in that situation with one timeout to just go,” said the point guard. “And you’ve got to give credit to JB pushing the pace, drawing four, and then making the right read.

“Then, of course, me, I’ve always been told you have more time than you realize you have. So when I caught the ball, if I was open, I was going to shoot it. And I seen two guys flying, so I took a pump fake, actually I was about to throw it to Al off the dribble and I saw JT cut at the last minute and just wanted to get the easiest shot we can, as close as we can to the basket. So, I found JT, he made a great play to get the ball off the glass and finish it before the game was over.”

Join the Conversation

We invite you to use our commenting platform to engage in insightful conversations about issues in our community. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable to us, and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy the law, regulation, or government request. We might permanently block any user who abuses these conditions.