The first round of the NBA 2021-22 post season is serving up some exhilarating plays thus far and the pick of the bunch is, without a doubt, the Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets series.

After three games, the Nets are on the verge of elimination following a 109-103 loss to Celtics in the first-round playoff series on Saturday at Barclays Center, and Kevin Durant’s and Kyrie Irving’s struggles are a big reason why the team is down 3-0.

Are the Duo Winded Up Already?
Durant scored 23 points in Game 1 against Boston and 27 points in Game 2, but has yet to take over games like many thought he would this postseason. Irving, meanwhile, was 0-for-7 from 3 on Saturday and is 10-for-30 overall over the past two games of this series.

And while Durant would not blame his struggles on fatigue, head coach Steve Nash implied in his postgame comments that both of his star players were feeling winded.

“They’ve both got to be tired,” Nash said. “Kyrie’s fasting, and Kevin’s had to play 40-plus minutes for five to six weeks after missing six to seven weeks.”

 

Meanwhile, Blake Griffin blamed the team’s struggles on a lack of spirit.

“I don’t know if our spirit was right tonight,” Griffin told reporters after the game. “… Obviously, nobody is even remotely happy or content. We’re all frustrated.”

How so the C’s are Dominant
This Boston defense has been one of the league’s main talking points for a long time now, and yet it keeps getting better. To add to it, Jayson Tatum is taking things a notch higher. You can talk about the attention Durant is receiving, but it is not as though Tatum got ignored, yet he put up 39 points on Saturday and has averaged 29.6 in the series.

The point is, if Tatum is able to get those shots on his terms, then it is what should be expected from Durant, who is reputed for being one of the best scorers in the league and not supposed to be a guy who can be forced into being a passer over the course of an entire game, let alone most of a series.

Tatum and Brown outscored Durant and Irving 62-32 on Saturday. Of course, Boston’s defense is a different kettle of fish than what Brooklyn can muster.

Nash and his Boys are Down and Out
No team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 series deficit, but if Durant and Irving can figure how to beat this Celtics defense, the Nets could be the first to accomplish the feat. And for Brooklyn, Ben Simmons is on course to make his Nets debut Monday in Game 4. Having him in the lineup might just be a boost following James Harden’s departure to the Philadelphia 76ers.

However, through three games, one of these teams has looked resilient, resourceful, unified, and most recently, totally dominant; the other tells you that there is still some basketball left to be played, but the truth is the Nets are dysfunctional and out of sorts.