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Nets beat Cavaliers in NBA play-in tournament, advance to playoffs

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving totaled 34 points and 12 assists in a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday in Brooklyn. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving totaled 34 points and 12 assists in a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday in Brooklyn. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

April 13 (UPI) -- Kyrie Irving totaled a team-high 34 points and Kevin Durant chipped in 25 points with 11 assists to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA play-in tournament, clinching a playoff spot.

Irving made his first 12 shots to spark the Nets' 115-108 win Tuesday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The All-Star guard also logged a dozen assists.

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"We were just very patient, allowing the game to come to us," Irving told reporters.

The Nets earned the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference with the victory. They will face the No. 2 Boston Celtics in a best-of-seven first-round series. The Cavaliers must beat the winner of the Atlanta Hawks-Charlotte Hornets play-in game to advance to the first-round.

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"It's going to take a lot of effort for 48 minutes each game," Durant said. "We will see what happens."

The Nets led by as many as 22 points and never trailed in Tuesday's triumph. They outshot the Cavaliers 53.6% to 44.6% from the floor. Cavaliers guard Darius Garland matched Irving with 34 points in the loss.

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Irving scored 11 points in the first quarter to held the Nets take a 40-29 lead into the second. The Cavaliers outscored the nets 23-17 in that quarter, but still trailed 57-43 at halftime. Irving scored 20 points in the first half.

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The Nets opened the third on a 7-2 run to push their advantage to 19. Veteran center Andre Drummond made a driving layup about two minutes later for the Nets' biggest lead of the night. The Nets took an 85-73 edge into the fourth.

Garland poured in 16 points over the final 12 minutes and the Cavaliers trimmed the deficit to five points several times down the stretch, but could not close the gap. Durant hit several big shots to end those rallies and send the Nets to the first round.

The Hornets face the Hawks in the second Eastern Conference play-in game at 7 p.m. EDT Wednesday at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.

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The winner of that matchup will face the Cavaliers on Friday in Cleveland for the No. 8 seed and a first-round matchup with the No. 1 Miami Heat.

The Nets face the Celtics in Game 1 of their first-round Easter Conference series 3:30 p.m. EDT Sunday at TD Garden in Boston.

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"We definitely wanted to get this one to start us off on this journey in the playoffs," Irving said. "We are grateful to play against one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. It's another challenge, another test."

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