Kyrie Irving had a perfect first half, and the Brooklyn Nets held off the Cleveland Cavaliers for a 115-108 win to move onto the first round of the playoffs.
Irving shot 9-9 in the first two quarters, including a buzzer-beater before intermission, and finished with a team-high 34 points and 12 assists.
When the seven-time All-Star was asked about putting up big numbers despite fasting for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, he said it was “Just a blessing to be able to do it and still perform.”
Kevin Durant added 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 11 assists for the home team, including a pair of pull-up jumpers late in the game to secure the lead.
“I just tried to play with effort and energy,” said Durant.
Brooklyn got a big boost from centers Andre Drummond and Nic Claxton, who combined for 29 points, 17 rebounds, and five blocks.
“I think Drumm and Nic did a good job of setting the tone. Just with the physicality, rebounding, sprinting back on defense. Just attention to detail. We’re going to need that going forward,” said Durant.
Brooklyn jumped out to a 20-point lead in the first quarter scoring 40 points, but the Cavs clawed their way back into the game, scoring seven of the first nine points in the fourth.
“At the end of the day, we built that lead, and that was the reward,” coach Steve Nash said after the game.
Darius Garland led five Cleveland players in double figures with 34 points, while veteran Kevin Love scored 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the losing effort.
The Nets will take on the second-seeded Boston Celtics next with no word on when Ben Simmons will be available, while the Cavs will play the winner of Charlotte vs. Atlanta.
Before the game, the teams held a moment of silence for the 10 people who were shot at a Brooklyn Subway station during the Tuesday morning commute.
The Nets said they were donating $50,000 to help those injured.