James Harden and Kevin Durant against the Boston Celtics in...

James Harden and Kevin Durant against the Boston Celtics in Game One of the first round of the NBA playoffs at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday, May 22, 2021. Credit: Steven Ryan

It’s not for nothing that Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden are called the Big 3.

On Saturday, they dominated the Nets’ 104-93 Game 1 first-round victory over the Celtics by scoring 82 points and taking 58 of 84 total shots compared with a supporting cast that scored a mere 22 points on 26 shots.

The supporting cast complemented the Big 3 by playing enough hard-nosed defense to make up for a slow start in the first half before Durant, Irving and Harden took control in the third quarter by combining to score 28 of the Nets' 31 points. As much as the Nets might rely on the Big 3, they seem likely to make an adjustment to get more players involved offensively in Game 2 Tuesday night at Barclays Center.

Asked if too many Nets deferred to the Big 3 in Game 1, Joe Harris attributed it to first-game jitters in front of the first sellout crowd of the season with 14,391 fans in the house and also to the fact that the Celtics played good defense that encouraged the Nets to play more isolation basketball.

"Overall, I thought we got pretty good looks," Harris said following shootaround Tuesday. "But a lot of it was in iso situations, and I think our best basketball is when the ball is moving, guys are moving themselves, we’re giving up good shots for great shots. Obviously, we know when we want to get a basket, going to Ky, Kev, James, any of those guys can go off the bounce.

"A big thing for us, too, is allowing them enough space. We looked back at some of the film from Game 1, and it seemed like guys were kind of eager and excited and we were creeping up in not allowing them enough space to operate. We were bringing extra defenders there, and it’s definitely something to focus on for Game 2."

Because Game 1 was only the ninth all season in which the Big 3 have been healthy together, it seems inevitable they need an adjustment period to develop chemistry and continuity not only with each other but with the supporting cast. The starting lineup coach Steve Nash used also was playing together for the first time as Harris and center Blake Griffin joined the Big 3.

"They’ve just had so little reps together, especially recently, that it’s going to take time for them to walk on the floor and just be firing on all cylinders," Nash said. "That is our gap right now that we have to overcome. It’s just that common experience and time together.

"It’s made what we do very simple, frankly, because we’re going through this experience for the first time. These guys haven’t played together as a five, so to speak. So that does take a moment, especially in the playoffs."

Griffin, in particular, struggled to find his place in the offense. He scored a single point at the foul line and did not record a field-goal attempt since he was fouled on the one shot he tried. But he insisted it was not a matter of passing up shots and deferring to the Big 3.

"We saw some matchups we liked, and we went to that," Griffin said. "They’re all so dynamic on offense that even when it’s just one on the floor, they still command attention. It’s being able to space the floor out properly and not get complacent to where it’s like, ‘Just throw them the ball and let them do their thing.’

"Let’s get into our sets, get some movement and let them get into their iso or breakdown off of that. When you have the luxury of having guys like that, you sort of lean on them to go get it done. We need to make sure we still go through all our sets, do all the things we work on and then let them get loose."

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