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Nets get 7 3s from Harris, rout Celtics 130-108 for 2-0 lead

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Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) blocks a shot by Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker (8) during the second half of Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

NEW YORK – Brooklyn is more than just its Big Three. There's also Joe Harris and his 3s.

Even if a team can contain Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, it still has to stop the NBA's most accurate 3-point shooter.

That's a lot of problems to solve, and Harris understands why teams don't make him the priority.

“I think it’s just sort of, this is the reality of the matter,” Harris said. “I mean, we have three of the best offensive players that really have ever played.”

Harris tied a franchise playoff record with seven 3-pointers, Durant scored 26 points and the Nets routed the Boston Celtics 130-108 on Tuesday night for a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Harris had a career playoff-high 25 points and Harden added 20 as the Nets unleashed their lethal offense after winning Game 1 largely with defense.

“Different games it’s going to be different guys,” Harden said. “Tonight it was Joe, next game, Game 3 it could be somebody else. So we’re just all locked in, we’re all on the same page and whatever it takes to win, we’re willing to do.”

Game 3 is Friday in Boston, where the Nets will attempt to build on their first 2-0 lead in a series since they swept the New York Knicks in the first round in 2004.

This one might be headed toward the same result, with the Celtics unable to do much scoring in Game 1 or stop the Nets from doing tons of it in Game 2.

“We’ve got to be way better,” coach Brad Stevens said, listing a number of defensive problems the Celtics have to address.

“They exposed that because they were really good, but I was disappointed in how we played versus the other night.”

Marcus Smart scored 19 points and Kemba Walker had 17 for the Celtics. Leading scorer Jayson Tatum had only nine points on 3-for-12 shooting before leaving after just 21 minutes when he was poked in the right eye.

After the Nets scored just 16 points in the first quarter of Game 1, Harris had that by himself in the opening quarter of this one while going 4 for 4 behind the arc.

The Nets had started slowly in Game 1 and in the only game their Big Three played together late in the regular season, and on Monday coach Steve Nash said he thought it might be a while before his three stars could walk on the court and be firing on all cylinders.

It was only a day later for Harris, who led the NBA in 3-point percentage at 47.5% this season.

Harris made three straight 3-pointers to extend a three-point lead to 25-13 and there was a little gasp from the crowd when he then stole the ball and dribbled down on a breakaway, as if he might pull up behind the arc. Instead, he went all the way for the layup and a 14-point lead.

It was 40-26 after one period and Harden made consecutive 3s to open the second. That made it a 20-point game and it was never close from there.

Walker said the Celtics have to look at the film to find opportunities they are missing.

“I know I missed a lot of passes myself that I could’ve made personally that I would definitely like to be better at,” he said. “So we’ve just got to be better.”

Irving had 15 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Nets, who made 17 3-pointers.

TIP-INS

Celtics: Boston has lost nine straight playoff games against the Nets and is 2-10 against them in the playoffs. ... Tristan Thompson had 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Nets: Deron Williams made seven 3-pointers in Game 4 of the Nets’ first round series against Atlanta on April 27, 2015. ... F Jeff Green left in the second half with a bruised left foot. ... New York Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu was at the game, as was skier Lindsey Vonn.

IRVING BACK TO BOSTON

Game 3 will be Irving's first time playing in front of fans in Boston since leaving as a free agent in 2019 following two seasons. Asked what he expected, he noted that it's not his first time playing in Boston as an opponent.

“So I’m just looking forward to competing with my teammates and hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball, there’s no belligerence or any racism going on, subtle racism and people yelling (stuff) from the crowd,” Irving said. “But even if it is, it’s part of the nature of the game and we’re just going to focus on what we can control.”

Asked if he had experienced that before, Irving said: “I’m not the only one that could attest to this, but it is what it is.”

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