Remember the storyline that the Brooklyn Nets might struggle in the postseason as the chemistry among their All-Star trio develops? Well, never mind.
The Nets defeated the short-handed Boston Celtics, 141-126, with Kevin Durant (42), Kyrie Irving (39) and James Harden (23) combining for 104 points. And Harden added a career playoff-high 18 assists as the Celtics took a 3-1 series lead over the Celtics.
With Durant, Irving and Harden playing just eight games together in the regular season, it might seem that the Nets would need some time to figure out how to best complement each other – even as they downplayed such talk.
Irving rebounded from a poor-shooting Game 3 loss by hitting 6 of his 12 3-pointers. After the game, a fan threw a water bottle at him as he left the court.
“Mental toughness? One of the best I’ve ever seen. For him, all the emotions or whatever is going through his mind, which I’m sure a million things go through his mind,” Harden said of Irving. “He goes out there, blocks everything out and just (is) himself and from a guy that probably would say he didn’t play his best game in Game 3, came in and had a killer instinct, killer mentality, and had a will to win Game 4. It showed. He was aggressive, and when Kai’s aggressive like that, nobody can guard him. That gives our team energy as well. Big-time effort from him, big-time effort from our team.”
18 DIMES for Harden.
42 POINTS for Durant.
High-level basketball. #NBAPlayoffspic.twitter.com/uMVokj4Paw
It helps that they are playing a short-handed Celtics team missing Jaylen Brown (out for the playoffs, wrist surgery) and Kemba Walker (out for Game 4 with left knee bone bruise).
Durant is averaging 34.7 points, Harden is averaging 26.2 and Irving is at 24.7.
The 104 points scored by Durant, Irving and Harden tied an NBA playoff record for three teammates set by Boston's John Havlicek, Jo Jo White and Dave Cowens in 1973 and matched in 1986 by Dominique Wilkins, Randy Whitman and Spud Webb.
State of the series: Nets lead 3-1. Game 5 is Tuesday in Brooklyn (7:30 p.m. ET, TNT)
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