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Boston Celtics

2020 NBA Christmas: Red-hot Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving lift Brooklyn Nets to big win over Boston Celtics

Watching the Milwaukee Bucks obliterate the Golden State Warriors in the earlier game appeared to take some of the excitement away from the Brooklyn Nets opening night win.

Or so you may have thought....

The Nets backed up their impressive win over the Warriors by dismantling the Boston Celtics on their home floor. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were simply irresistible as Brooklyn moved to 2-0 on the season with a 123-95 win.

Here are some of the takeaways from another statement night from the Nets.

The All-Star duo's quarters of destruction

As is the case every time a new superstar duo is formed, questions are asked about their ability to co-exist.

Through two games of the Durant-Irving era in Brooklyn, those concerns have almost completely been quashed, with the Nets seemingly hitting full stride out the gates.

Irving led all scorers with 37 points on the night, while Durant tallied an easy 29, with neither required for more than 33 minutes of court time.

Arguably the scariest part of the dominance from an opposition perspective was their ability to take turns in completely dominating the game, with the other happy to defer to the hot hand.

A 14-point second quarter for Irving was quickly followed by a 16-point outburst to Durant in the third. An explosion of that magnitude in one quarter is difficult to withstand. What are you supposed to do when there are two seperate players doing it on the one night?

Another statement was made by the Nets in this one.

Jayson Tatum and shot selection

An excellent stretch prior to the NBA shutdown in March catapulted Jayson Tatum's into the conversation as the next rising superstar of the game.

The clear No. 1 option in the Celtics offence has had an up and down start to the 2021 season, despite the fact he has one game-winning shot under his belt.

Tatum registered 20 points against the Nets on 9-for-22 from the field. This follows up his 30-point effort against Milwaukee on 12-for-28 shooting. Overall, that leaves Tatum 21-for 50 (42%) through two games and the Celtics will likely need him to see an uptick in efficiency if they are to keep pace with contenders across the league.

Against Brooklyn, Tatum was just 6-for-16 from two-point range, while against Milwaukee he struggled to finish 2-for-7 from within seven feet of the basket. The numbers have been fine at a glance, but Tatum is clearly still working his way into form to start the season.

Celtics shorthanded offence

Compounding the pressure on Tatum is the Celtics' shorthanded offence.

With Kemba Walker sidelined for the foreseeable future, Boston are losing a 20-point per night scorer in addition to losing Gordon Hayward to Charlotte in the offseason.

Brad Stevens is attempting to start both Tristan Thompson and Daniel Theis, neither of which can reliably provide an offensive punch.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown firing away

FGA for Tatum and Brown (% of team's FGA)
vs. Milwaukee 52 (51.4%)
vs. Brooklyn 47 (47.9%)

Through two games, the Celtics duo of Tatum and Brown have combined for 99 shot attempts or 49.8 percent of Boston's total shot attempts.

Last season, the pair combined for 34.2 field goal attempts per game. The dramatic spike is not all that unexpected given the roster limitations, but one has to wonder how sustainable it is long term.

What's next?

Both teams will have one day off before getting back into it. Brooklyn will head to Charlotte, while Boston will hit the road for the first time to meet Indiana.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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