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Celtics look to win 3rd straight plus improve their draft pick as they take on the Nets

The Celtics complete their 3 game road trip with a visit to the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics (8-6) at Brooklyn Nets (4-9)
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
7:30 pm ET
Game #15, Road Game #9
TV: CSNNE, YES, NBA-LP 756(DTV)/755(xfinity)
98.5 Sports Hub, WCBS 880 AM
Barclays Center
Referees: Jason Phillips, Curtis Blair, Sean Corbin

The Celtics complete their 3 game road trip with a visit to the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center. This is the second of 4 meetings this season. They will meet again in Brooklyn on March 7 and the 4th and final time in Boston on March 10. They split the series 2-2 last season with each team winning once at home and once on the road.

These two teams met on opening night with the Celtics winning 122-117. It looked like the Celtics would run away with it, up by as many as 23 points. But the Nets came back to get within 3 points but the Celtics were able to pull the game out in the end. Hopefully the Celtics won't take this team for granted and allow them to keep this game close.

The Nets have lost their last 4 games while the Celtics are on a 2 game win streak. The Nets have had the last two days off to practice and try to fix some problems and to try to figure out what it will take to beat the Celtics. The Celtics have won the last two games against the Nets.

The Celtics being healthy didn't last very long as Jae Crowder sat out the last 16 minutes of their win over the Timberwolves on Monday as his ankle once again gave him trouble. He is a game time decision for this game. If Jae can't go, Marcus Smart is likely to once again slip into the starting lineup in his place. Isaiah Thomas is playing through a sprained finger on his shooting hand.

For the Nets, starting point guard, Jeremy Lin is out with a sore hamstring. Caris LaVert is also out with a foot injury. A Celtics win would give the Celtics a double benefit of improving their own record as well as improving the Nets draft pick, which the Celtics have the right to swap with their own.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Isaiah Thomas vs Isaiah Whitehead

Shooting Guard
Avery Bradley vs Bojan Bogdanovic

Small Forward
Jae Crowder vs Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Power Forward
Al Horford vs Trevor Booker
Amir Johnson vs Brook Lopez

Celtics Reserves
Jaylen Brown
Gerald Green
Demetrius Jackson
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
James Young
Jonas Jerebko
Tyler Zeller
Kelly Olynyk
Marcus Smart

Jae Crowder (ankle) game time decision

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Nets Reserves
Anthony Bennett
Yogi Ferrell
Randy Foye
Justin Hamilton
Joe Harris
Sean Kilpatrick
Chris McCullough
Luis Scola

Caris LeVert (foot) out
Jeremy Lin (hamstring) out

Head Coach
Kenny Atkinson

Key Matchups
Amir Johnson vs Brook Lopez
Lopez is a challenge to defend. He is averaging 20.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. He is capable of scoring a lot of points if not guarded closely. He is also a threat to get 2nd chance points if the Celtics don't box him out.

Avery Bradley vs Bojan Bogdanovic
Bogdanovic is averaging 14.8 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists. He is a threat from beyond the arc as well as taking it to the basket. He also has a height advantage over Avery.

Honorable Mention
Celtics Bench vs Nets Bench
The Nets Bench is one of the highest scoring units in the league. They are averaging 45.1 points per game. The Celtics reserves must play tough defense as well as be productive themselves in order to keep the Celtics in the game when the starters are on the bench.

Keys to the Game

Defense - The Celtics have been playing much better on defense with the team back to being healthy. They are allowing an average of 103.6 points per game but have to tighten that up much more. The Nets are allowing 113.3 points per game and have struggled with defense. Defense wins games and so the Celtics have to get back to making defense their priority.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics need to be the more aggressive team in going after loose balls, rebounds, 50/50 balls, and in going to the basket. They also have to be aggressive on defense. They have to be the team that wants it more and they have to play that way for 48 minutes and not allow themselves to get into a hole or to let up and allow teams to come back if they build a lead.

Rebound - The Celtics need the ball in order to score. They need to rebound on the offensive end to give themselves extra possessions and to keep the Nets from getting fast break points. They also need to rebound on the defensive end to keep the Nets from getting second chance points. In the first game between these teams, the Nets pulled down 15 offensive rebounds that resulted in a season high 23 second chance points. The Celtics can't let that happen again.

Take Care of the Ball
- Against the Timberwolves, the Celtics got sloppy at times and allowed the Wolves to steal the ball and that is what allowed them to go on a run. The Celtics have to take care of the ball and make good passes and not allow the Nets to get into the passing lanes.

Trap Game - The Celtics tend to take the Nets for granted and lost 2 games to them last season that they should have won. They let the Nets back into the opening night game to almost steal another game. The Celtics must take this team seriously and not play down to them.

Road Game
- The Celtics are playing in their third straight road game and could be a bit road weary by this time. They need to focus on the task at hand and not allow the Nets' crowd and the distractions of travel and being on the road take them out of their game.

Officiating -
Officiating is a factor in every single game played in the NBA. Every crew has their own biases and their own way of officiating and many times it affects the way the game is played. The Celtics play better when the refs let them play and aren't tyrants with the whistle and when the calls are consistent. There is always the chance of home court advantage with the refs giving the home team the benefit of many of the calls.

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