By Lenn Robbins
Check that. Wow!
Since the day James Harden forced his way out of Houston and arrived in Brooklyn, the debate began: Is this basketball troika of Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant the most potent offense trio of all time?
After the Nets took a flame thrower to the Celtics and their Irving-hating fans Sunday night, it’s hard to bet against this group. The Nets had 73 points by halftime, 112 entering the fourth quarter, and finished with a 141-126 bonfire roast of Boston.
The 141 points is a franchise playoff record. Nets rookie coach Steve Nash showed no mercy, keeping his three stars on the court until the final minute. Wow!
Irving, who has embraced his role as No.1 Villain, rebounded from a 2-of-6 shooting performance from behind the arc in Friday’s Game 3 loss that gave the Celtic faithful nothing but false hope, made 6-of-10 3’s and 11-of-11 from the line in a 39-point masterpiece. Oh yes, he added 11 rebounds. Wow!
The crowd of 17,226, the largest in TD Garden since COVID-19 hit, not only booed Irving when he had the ball, they booed Irving when Harden had the ball. Oh, this was vitriol on piping-hot New England clam chowder level.
Irving was despised because Boston fans believe the point guard didn’t give everything he had in his final season there of 2018-19. Before this best-of-seven series began Irving said he hoped Boston fans would stick to basketball and avoid subtle racism, which wouldn’t sit well with any fan base.
After Boston extracted a measure of revenge booing Irving as he struggled in Game 3, the second-year Nets star got the last word. By midway through the fourth quarter the Boston faithful had conceded defeat and were chanting for the insertion of center Taco Fall and not the demise of Irving.
Durant had a game-high 42 points on 14-of-20 shooting from the field and 11-for-11 from the line. Harden had 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting and a playoff-career high 17 assists.
The Big Three was simply dazzling, finishing with 104 points on 33-of-56 shooting from the field, 11-of-20 on 3’s and 25 assists. Wow!
With 55 seconds left, Durant and Irving were reviewing the stat sheet in front of the Nets bench.
The Celtics, who already lost Jaylen Brown weeks ago to a season-ending wrist injury, also were without Kemba Walker, who was scratched from the game with a knee injury. Walker has been dealing with knee issues all season and the Bronx warrior simply couldn’t go. Jayson Tatum turned in another sensational effort scoring 40 points two nights after scoring 50.
OK, one wow for Boston.
Game 5 is Tuesday night in Kings County and Irving should receive a huge ovation for silencing the Celtics. After putting up 142 on the road, imagine what the Nets might do at home? Yep, you got it. Wow!