Kyrie Forces Celtics’ Defense to Bend, but Not Break

It was over. At least it should have been. With just a few minutes to go in Game 1 of Boston’s first-round series against Brooklyn, the Celtics were on the verge of kicking the game away. 

A 15-point lead had evaporated. Kyrie Irving, New England’s favorite villain, got hot. Kevin Durant made a couple of shots, too.

Boston’s crunch-time offense, a weakness in an otherwise stellar second half of the season, looked ragged.

Here’s how it played out: A shade under 40 seconds to play and the Nets up one, Brooklyn had the ball and was looking for the dagger. 

They looked to Irving, who had 39 points in his return to Boston. He was bottled up. 

Tatum had already blocked one of Durant’s shots earlier. As the shot clock wound down, Tatum stayed in Durant’s chest, forcing the ex-MVP into a contested 30-footer.

Boston rebounded. Ime Udoka declined to call a timeout. “I tell the guys all the time,” said Udoka. “If we have an advantageous position, I won’t call a timeout.” 

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