The Boston Celtics’ reward for beating the Wizards in the play-ins is a matchup with the Brooklyn Nets. It’s going to be a tough one for them, especially without Jaylen Brown.
Catch the game live on Sunday, May 23, at 8 AM Manila time.
HOME TEAM: Brooklyn Nets (0-0, 0-0 at home)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: James Harden
- SG: Kyrie Irving
- SF: Joe Harris or Bruce Brown
- PF: Kevin Durant
- C: Blake Griffin
The Brooklyn Nets defeated the Boston Celtics 3-0 in the regular season, but there were key players missing for both sides in all of those games, plus James Harden hadn’t been traded to them yet during the first matchup.
James Harden is the key for Brooklyn, as he’s been their best player when he’s been able to take the floor. In the 36 games that he suited up in for the Nets this season, they’ve gone 29-7 while he averaged 24.6 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 10.9 APG and 1.3 SPG. His stats don’t tell the full story, though as he’s also been their stabilizing floor general who helps get his teammates involved.
As good as Harden is, the Nets obviously still do have two other superstars in Kevin Durant (26.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.3 BPG) and Kyrie Irving (26.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 6.0 APG). Brooklyn’s three-headed monster is undoubtedly one of the greatest offensive trios in NBA history, and if all three are healthy then it’s hard to see anyone in the East beating them in a seven-game series.
Brooklyn are also loaded with solid role players like Blake Griffin (though it still feels weird to call him a role player), Joe Harris, Jeff Green, Landry Shamet, and Bruce Brown. Talent wise, they’ve really just hit the jackpot this year. Most importantly, though, Irving and Durant both have championship experience and know what it takes to win on the biggest stage of them all: the NBA Finals. After some struggles near the end of the season, Brooklyn closed out with five-straight wins and are looking to continue with their momentum in Game 1.
The one thing that the Nets will probably go through in Game 1 is just a feeling out process between their three stars, considering that Irving, Harden and Durant only played in eight games together in the regular season.
Brooklyn are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games as a home favorite, and hit the over 7 out of 10 times.
ROAD TEAM: Boston Celtics (0-0, 0-0 on the road)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Kemba Walker
- SG: Marcus Smart
- SF: Jayson Tatum
- PF: Evan Fournier
- C: Tristan Thompson
Man, the Celtics are really going to miss Jaylen Brown in this series. The 1b to Tatum’s 1a is the kind of hard-nosed player they’ll need to compete against the Nets, because Jayson Tatum (26.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.2 SPG) and Kemba Walker (19.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.9 APG) might just not have enough firepower to outduel Brooklyn.
The Celtics, without Brown, struggled a bit in their last ten games and went 4-6. They’ll be riding high off their dominant victory against the Wizards in their play-in game, where Tatum went off for 50 points. That last game is a strong reminder that these Celtics are no pushovers, even without Brown.
Boston’s not going to be able to contain all three of the Nets’ superstars, but Marcus Smart is going to try his damndest to get in Irving and Harden’s heads. If they’re able to bother one of those two, that would go a long way in upping their chances of winning the game.
The Celtics are 6-4 ATS in their last 10 games as road underdogs, and they split the over/under 5-5.
The Celtics will give it the old college try, but the Nets should win this one. I think that Boston cover the +8 spread, though.
I think that there will be fireworks from both sides on offense this game and the over 229 hits.