Brooklyn Nets: Scary Hours engulfs Celtics as Nets dominate Game 4 (5/30/2021)

After an infuriating Game Three loss, the collision course with the Bucks is back on track as the Brooklyn Nets made a necessary statement in Game Four.

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For a bit it appeared as if the Nets would be in for another dog fight as the Celtics came out the gate with a lot of energy, amassing a nine-point lead early. However, Brooklyn quickly righted the ship and once the second quarter began, grabbed the lead and never looked back. With a truly scary performance from Brooklyn’s big three, the Nets rode a 40-point second quarter to a dominating win to put a stranglehold on the series.

Here are three takeaways from a very impressive 141-126 Game Four victory:

Kyrie Irving bounces back

After a mundane Game Three in which Kyrie looked like a shell of himself, Irving bounced back in a big way for Brooklyn. The difference was noticeable from the jump as Irving looked to be more engaged and energetic on both ends of the floor. He was attacking the basket and getting to the line. He was also active on defense. After collecting a majority of his points at the line in the first quarter, Kyrie started getting it going from the field in typical Kyrie fashion. Deep threes, mid-range fades, and tough finishes around the rim highlighted his offensive performance in the second quarter in which he dropped 11 points. He even had one of his dazzling And-1 mixtapes plays in which he dribbled through a slew of Boston defenders in transition then finishing at the rim with his left hand.

The second half saw more of Kyrie’s brilliance as he was a huge key in the Nets expanding their lead. Not only did he have a highlight-worthy putback slam but also had a crowd-silencing three-pointer that pushed the Nets lead at the time to 26. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around the crowd of over 17,000 that serenaded Kyrie with boos every time he touched the ball in the first half could barely utter a peep. Uncle Drew would go on to finish with 39 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.

This was the bounce-back type of performance that was expected of an NBA champion. Perhaps Irving was saving a little in the tank in Game Three to really explode when Boston increased its crowd capacity at TD Garden for Game Four. Whatever the case maybe this was a huge game for Irving and should be a springboard for him as the Nets go deeper in the playoffs.

Scary Hours in full effect

There might need to be a word that’s even scarier than “scary” to describe the Nets’ big three. The trio of Kyrie, KD, and Harden lived up to their billing and then some, leading Brooklyn to an important win to put a stranglehold on the series. Scary Hours was partially in effect during the first quarter as Kevin Durant and Irving combined for 29 of Brooklyn’s 33 points. Coupled with Irving’s noticeable aggressiveness was Durant doing what he does best. Score the basketball. Then after seeing what Irving and Durant did in the first quarter, James Harden decided to take it upon himself to announce to the crowd he was there too. James went on a scoring spree, dropping 15 of his 17 first-half points in that second period. This included a ferocious one-handed slam that had the Nets bench on its feet. At halftime, the Nets Big three combined for 59 points.

The second half was more domination from the big three as it almost turned into a your turn, my turn situation. If it wasn’t Kyrie launching a long-range three it was Durant hitting a contested middy. And if not that it was Harden dropping dimes to a variety of Nets. Speaking of dimes Harden collected himself 18 of them, the second-most in Nets playoff history behind Jason Kidd. Harden also became the first Nets player to record 20 points and 15 assists in a playoff game. Even when the Celtics appeared to be making a late push in the fourth, Durant connected on consecutive back-breaking three-pointers that truly put the came to bed. In totality, the Scary Hours trio combined to score 104 points. For comparison, the Celtics as a team only scored 22 more points than them.

This is what Nets fans envisioned when Harden joined this team in January. Dominating performances such as this come playoff time. And the truly scary thing is that when all three are clicking, they can do this every game. And if that’s the case, we may be in for a historic playoff run.

The youngster shows up in a big way

One of the problems that plagued Brooklyn in Game Three was the lack of focus crashing the boards and protecting the paint. Well, a message was clearly sent and one of those who received that message was Nicolas Claxton. As poor and timid as Claxton played the previous game, that’s how confident he played in Game Four. Claxton didn’t play much, in fact only totaling eight minutes of action. However, he made the most of those minutes. Nicolas was a key part of Brooklyn’s surge in the second quarter, making a significant impact on the defensive end. In just six first-half minutes Claxton tallied a career-high four blocks. You could see a renewed sense of confidence in his game. Even though he was a non-factor on offense, his energy and ability to protect the paint were more than enough.

With the uncertainty of Jeff Green’s status for the second round, Claxton will be called upon to provide the Nets with important minutes at the center position.

Next up: Game Five back in Brooklyn where the Nets will look to close out the series. (Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET, TNT)