Cavaliers vs Nets score takeaway: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant dominate as Brooklyn lands No. 7 seed

The NBA play-in tournament is a live-and-go situation, and on Tuesday night the Brooklyn Nets outlasted the Cleveland Cavaliers, 115-108, to qualify for the playoffs as the No. No. 7 East, earning them a first-meeting with the No. 2 Boston Celtics.

Here are five takeaways from Brooklyn’s win.

1. What can Brooklyn take away from this victory?

Well, it turns out they’re a pretty formidable team when Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant combine for 59 points on 21 of 31 shooting, including 4 of 7 of 3. Irving made his first 12 shots, which would be a postseason record if the play-in counted as a true playoff game, which it didn’t. He ended the first half with this madness:

That’s the kind of thing Irving did all night. He wasn’t piling buckets on easy looks. These are largely difficult shots that only a few players in the world, like his teammate Durant, make look easy.

Durant and Irving finished with 19 points on 10 of 10 shooting in the first quarter to put Cleveland in the hole they couldn’t get out of. Durant had a lull for parts of the second and third quarters, but he closed strong with two clutch jumpers as Cleveland cut the lead to five. Durant was also terrific defensively, blocking three shots and modifying a handful of others.

2. What about when Durant/Irving are seated?

It was a problem on Tuesday. When Durant took his first rest of the game at the end of the first quarter, the Nets scored two goals, yes of thempoints in the first four minutes, 23 seconds of the second quarter before Durant returned.

By then, even with Kyrie still in the game, Brooklyn’s momentum was gone, and the next thing you knew, the Nets had only scored eight points in the first nine-plus minutes of the second quarter. .

Irving and Durant both played 42 minutes on Tuesday, and the Nets needed each of them. Steve Nash has no choice: he will have to play Durant and Irving monster minutes as long as this team is alive. And even then, what do you say Brooklyn, with its two stars playing huge minutes and pretty close to perfect as a combo, had to go to the wire to beat a Cleveland team that was playing without Jarrett Allen?

3. Brooklyn’s defense was encouraging

It wasn’t just Durant defending the rim; Nic Claxton was there with five blocks. Everyone is committed to turning, recovering and contesting shots all over the field; even the non-shot blockers made it difficult to shoot in the paint. The Cavs are a limited team offensively, and they had success in transition and early on offense, but when Brooklyn came back and settled in, they put up a relatively good defensive effort.

Of course, the Celtics pose much bigger problems with multiple big scorers and a strong designer stable, not to mention Boston’s switching defense that can throw multiple bodies at Durant and Irving.

Cleveland got a fair amount of point-blank layups and dunks on over-the-top passes in the half court as Brooklyn found themselves oversized in the paint. When Andre Drummond is absent or off, Al Horford and Daniel Theis will look to take advantage of similar real estate. For the Nets, now is the best time to catch the Celtics because Robert Williams probably won’t play in the series or Boston would be even bigger.

4. The Nets need more Seth Curry

Curry was held scoreless in 34 minutes. He only fired four shots. He’s dealing with a swollen ankle, but there really isn’t much more to say. The Nets obviously need more of him. Boston will anticipate short rolls and paint cuts from Bruce Brown, and Curry waiting in the corner for the secondary assist 3 can be a massive weapon for Brooklyn. Don’t bet Curry stays cold. He is one of the best shooters in the world.

5. The Cavs get a second chance

Cleveland isn’t finished yet. He’ll face the winner of Wednesday’s Atlanta/Charlotte playoff, and whoever the Cavs get, they’ll get it at home. Darius Garland and Evan Mobley were superb against Brooklyn; Garland went for 34 points and Mobley was 9 for 13 from the field. Garland took it in Brooklyn, and the Cavs looked much better attacking early rather than being behind in the shot clock. When this happens, only Garland can reliably create a decent look. It looks like the flame has gone out on this Cavs season, which started off so fun and promising. Losing Jarrett Allen and Ricky Rubio was a killer. But Atlanta and Charlotte are obviously beatable. We’ll see what kind of resolve Cleveland can muster on Friday.