The Brooklyn Nets’ 2021 season ended not with a bang, but with a sweep.
A year after the Nets breezed past the Celtics in the first round, Boston returned the favor in a big way. The Celtics beat the Nets 116-112 in Game 4 at Barclays Center on Monday, finishing off a 4-0 series victory.
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 39 points, while Kyrie Irving contributed 20 and Seth Curry added 23. Jayson Tatum led the way for Boston in the closeout game, tallying 29 points, five assists and three rebounds despite fouling out.
Durant looked more like his usual self to open Game 4. He totaled 11 points in the first quarter, but the Celtics led 30-26 after the first 12 minutes.
Boston extended its lead in each of the next two quarters, holding a 90-78 advantage going into the fourth. The Nets started the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run with Tatum on the bench and kept the game close the rest of the way.
Goran Dragic banked in a 3-pointer with 5:24 left to make it a one-possession game, but Jaylen Brown followed it up with a three-point play for Boston.
Holding a six-point lead, the Celtics were dealt a blow when Tatum picked up his sixth foul. He was called for a push as Boston was attempting to inbound the ball, keeping the team’s best player on the bench for the final 2:49 of the contest.
It didn’t take long for Brooklyn to capitalize. Irving hit a 32-foot 3-pointer to make it a 109-106 game and Durant cut Boston’s lead to just one point with a jumper at the 1:28 mark.
Brown countered with a layup before Durant missed a jumper on the ensuing possession. Durant had another chance to make it a one-point game at the free throw line with 22.2 seconds left, but he missed his second free throw. Boston drove the ball up the floor and Al Horford sank a tip shot to put the team up 113-109 with just 13.7 left on the clock.
Boston was able to ice the game at the free throw line the rest of the way to close out the 116-112 victory and the Nets’ playoff aspirations.
The fourth quarter wasn’t the only time where free throws came into play. Nic Claxton, who finished with 13 points, broke an NBA playoff record by missing his first 10 free throws on Monday, finally making one after the Celtics intentionally fouled him off the ball in the third quarter.
Brooklyn ended the regular season with a 44-38 record and earned the Eastern Conference’s No. 7 seed with a play-in victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. That win set up the first-round rematch with Boston and ended up being their final win of the year.
The Nets lost all four games against the Celtics by a combined 18 points. It took a Tatum buzzer beater for the Celtics to pull out Game 1 and a 17-point comeback to win Game 2. The Celtics earned a slightly more comfortable victory in Game 3 before squeezing out Monday’s win.
The Celtics will face the winner of the Bucks-Bulls series in the second round. Milwaukee, the reigning NBA champion, holds a 3-1 series lead over Chicago and will look to punch its ticket to the second round on Wednesday.