BOSTON -- In a sense, the early portion of Wednesday night's halftime show at TD Garden resembled the actual game, drawing nothing but cheers from an opening-night crowd that wasn't sure quite what to expect.
Using a trampoline parked directly in the lane's green paint, members of the Celtics' dance team kept racing up court full speed before hopping onto the contraption and elevating with ease for a dunk. It's almost as if they were imitating the guys in the green uniforms, who thoroughly eviscerated the Nets on the interior so much so that Brook Lopez probably was squirming in his seat.
With Lopez still sidelined by a mild mid-foot sprain and Mason Plumlee starting in his place, the Nets were no match for a team many observers believe is destined to be counting its ping-pong balls come NBA draft lottery time in May. Brooklyn looked discombobulated at times in its season opener, falling to the Celtics, 121-105, in a completely forgettable performance.
"I don't want to say it's good. It's never good to lose like this," Deron Williams said. "But . . . this opened our eyes up a little bit. So if we don't come ready to play, we are going to get beat."
Defensive breakdowns were a common occurrence by the Nets, who yielded 67 first-half points and a whopping 101 through the first three quarters. Here's how bad it was in the first half alone: The Celtics had nearly as many second-chance points (36) as the Nets' entire offensive output (41).
Frustration abounded for a team that found itself trailing by as many as 29 points.
Rotations were a step slow, leading to wide-open looks for the Celtics. Things certainly weren't any better on the interior, either, not with the paint opening up wider than a lane on the nearby Massachusetts Turnpike. The Nets were carved up for 62 points in the paint.
"It's like an open gate," said Nets coach Lionel Hollins, who was whistled for a technical foul in the second quarter. "All the sheep got out of the gate. It was layup after layup. They had 62 points in the paint and most of them were non-contested.
"The problem was we just were making so many mistakes in the pick and roll and then just straight line penetration really hurt us."
In untraditional fashion apparently, too. Rajon Rondo, who missed the entire preseason recovering from a broken left hand, took full advantage of the Nets' confusion on defense, racking up 12 assists by following a game plan to which the Nets never could fully adjust.
"Their schemes were very clever," Kevin Garnett said. "They do unorthodox things, such as putting a big in the corner, having the big roll. That's a lot of pressure on your smalls. Hats goes off to their coach, coach [Brad] Stevens and his schemes."
With a little help from the Nets, something that led to an extremely quiet locker room afterward. "They shot the heck out of the ball and we started giving up layups," Joe Johnson said. "And if you want to win in this league, you can't do that. [Giving up] 120-something points, you are rarely going to win a game like that."