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Game Thread: Celtics back in preseason action as they visit the Nets

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The Celtics visit the Brooklyn Nets looking to get their first win over NBA competition.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

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Boston Celtics (2-0) at Brooklyn Nets (1-2) 
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
7:30 pm ET
TV:  CSNNE, YES
Barclays Center

The Celtics are facing their first NBA opponent after their 2-0 European adventure where the Celtics built chemistry and worked on rotations and player combinations.  The Nets have played 3 games,  beating the Pistons and losing to Gigi Datome's Fenerbahce Ulker and the Philadelphia 76ers.   

Once again, I am guessing at starting lineups.  Brad Stevens has said that he plans to use just 4 bigs per game, with David Lee and Tyler Zeller starting and Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk coming off the bench most nights.  That leaves Jared Sullinger and Jonas Jerebko on the outside looking in.  While Jerebko can find some minutes at the 3, Jared seems to be the odd man out.  However, matchups and injuries can change these plans as quickly as they were thought out.

In spite of this announcement, we may see different starting lineups or rotations in the remaining preseason games as Stevens continues to evaluate his lineups.  David Lee and Avery Bradley are expected to rest this game and so I wouldn't be surprised to see Sully get more minutes or even start for one game.   Isaiah Thomas and Evan Turner are expected to start and I guessed at the rest of the lineup. 

As for the Nets,  the only player who has started every game is Brook Lopez and I'm pretty sure he will be in the starting lineup for this game.  I've guessed that the other starters will be the ones who started 2 of the 3 games, but again,  I may be wrong.    They are also missing several players due to rest and injuries.

The Celtics are very interested in how the Nets fare this season since they own the Nets first round pick.  Beating them, while it wouldn't count for much in the regular season standings, would be nice to give the Celtics a boost of confidence.  It's always nice to beat a division rival, even in the preseason. 



Possible Starters
PG:  Isaiah Thomas
SG: Evan Turner
SF:  Jae Crowder
PF:  Amir Johnson
C:   Tyler Zeller

Probable Reserves

Coty Clarke
RJ Hunter
Jonas Jerebko
Perry Jones III 
Jordan Mickey
Malcolm Miller
Kelly Olynyk 
Levi Randolph 
Jared Sullinger   
Corey Watson
James Young

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Injuries
Terry Rozier (knee) questionable 
Jonas Jerebko  (illness)  questionable 
Marcus Smart (illness)  doubtful 
Avery Bradley (rest)  out
David Lee  (rest)  out 

Players to Watch

Evan Turner should get his first preseason action in this game and is expected to start along side Isaiah Thomas.  He may be rusty but Brad Stevens has said that he will handle the ball quite a bit.    
Jared Sullinger may be one of the odd men out on this power forward heavy roster.  Brad Stevens said that he will probably only play 4 bigs in most games and suggested that Lee and Zeller would be starters with Johnson and Olynyk off the bench.  With Lee out for rest purposes,  Sully should get more playing time to prove he belongs.
Perry Jones III missed the Celtics game in Spain due to a death in the family.  He should be back with the team to continue to fight for that last roster spot. 
James Young has yet to show why he deserves the last spot on the roster, in spite of glowing reports from Danny Ainge.  The team will need to see something positive from either Jones or Young to make the decision on the final spot. 




Possible Starters
PG: Jarrett Jack
SG: Wayne Ellington
SF: Joe Johnson
PF  Thaddeus Young
C   Brook Lopez 

Probable Reserves
Ryan Boatright
Chris Daniels
Justin Harper
Dahntay Jones
Sergey Karasev
Shane Larkin
Chris McCullough
Quincy Miller
Willie Reed
Thomas Robinson

Head Coach

Lionel Hollins

Injuries
Rondae Hollis Jefferson  (ankle) day to day
Andrea Bargnani (hamstring) day to day
Markel Brown out
Chris McCullough out 
Donald Sloan (hamstring) out
Thomas Robinson (wrist)  day to day

Players to Watch


Brook Lopez is the only Net to have started every game so far.  He is averaging 16 points and 5 rebounds per game.  Lopez will give the Celtics post defense a good test. 
Jarrett Jack started two of the Nets 3 games and is averaging 15.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1,5 assists.   In the past, Jack has given the Celtics problems and he should give the Celtics defense a good test as well. 
Thomas Robinson started just the first game for the Nets but pulled down 16 rebounds in that game.  He also scored 12 points.  He is considered day to day with a wrist injury but if he plays, the Celtics will need to box him out to keep him off the boards. 


Keys to the Game
Defense
- The Celtics are building their identity on their defense this season.  They need to continue to build a tough and swarming defense.  Defense will be even more important as they switch from European opponents to NBA opponents. 

Run! - The Celtics advantage in many games will be their depth and youth.  They need to run their opponents off the court and with that depth,  keep fresh legs on the court and wear out their opponents. 

Ball Movement - Olimpia Milano players said that the Celtics' ball movement reminded them of the Spurs.   The Celtics have been moving the ball very well and it makes guarding them much tougher.  They need to continue to move the ball and make the extra pass. 

Be Aggressive - The more aggressive team usually gets the benefit of the whistles and they also usually get the win.  The Celtics need to be aggressive on defense, on the boards, in going after loose balls and in taking the ball to the hoop. 

X-Factors
Over Confidence
- The Celtics need to avoid over confidence that could result from their easy wins in their first two games.  They need to go into this game with the attitude that they are playing the best team in the NBA and need to give it their best effort.

Rust vs Rest -  The Celtics have gone almost a week without a game and also, although they have played 2 games,  this will be their first game against NBA competition.  Hopefully they won't be rusty from the break.