The Celtics host the Brooklyn Nets for the 2nd of 4 games this season. The Celtics beat the Nets in Brooklyn 109-102 on November 14. They will meet again in Brooklyn next week on January 6 and again in Boston on the very last game of the regular season on April 11. In spite of their record, the Nets play hard and I'm sure that they have play a little harder vs the Celtics.
The Celtics can thank the Nets for their quick rebuild in that the Celtics could win and bring in good players as the Nets were tanking for for the Celtics' lottery picks. The final Nets pick is now in the hands of the Cavaliers by virtue of the Kyrie Irving trade. But I can imagine that the Nets would love to pay the Celtics back for all those lottery picks that they didn't get.
The Celtics are 15-5 at home and 5-1 against teams in their division. The Nets are 6-12 on the road and 0-4 in games against Atlantic division teams. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games while the Nets are 3-7 in their last 10 games. The Nets are looking for their second straight win while the Celtics are looking to win their 3rd straight game.
The Nets last win was a 111-87 win over the Miami Heat, a game in which they led by as many as 38 points. The Celtics have won the last 6 games between these two teams. This is the first of back to back games for the Nets. They are 4-3 on the first night of back to back games. This is also the 5th and final game of the Nets' road trip. The Celtics have had two days off for the first time this month and will not play again until Wednesday when they face the Cavaliers.
The Nets played without D'Angelo Russell in the first game against the Celtics and will again be without him for this game. They are also without Jeremy Lin, who is out for the season with a knee injury. The Nets do have Nik Stauskas and Jahlil Okafor, who they got in exchange for Trevor Booker. Stauskas has moved into the rotation, however, Okafor hasn't been playing for them as yet.
Jaylen Brown practiced on Saturday wearing a knee brace and is expected to play in this game. Marcus Morris is also expected to play in this game after having two days off since the Celtics last game. Semi Ojeleye is doubtful for this game with the back injury that has kept him out of the past 3 games. Gordon Hayward remains out with the ankle injury.
Probable Celtics Starters
Gordon Hayward (ankle) out
Semi Ojeleye (back) doubtful
Jaylen Brown (knee) probable
Marcus Morris (knee) probable
Two Way Players
Jeremy Lin (knee) out
D'Angelo Russell (knee) out
Two Way Players
Kyrie Irving vs Spencer Dinwiddie
Once again, Kyrie will be matched up against Spencer Dinwiddie at the point. Dinwiddie is averaging 12.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game. In the last game between these two teams, Dinwiddie finished with 12 points and 11 assists. Kyrie finished with a game high 25 points.
Al Horford vs Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Hollis-Jefferson is averaging 14.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. In his last game, against the Celtics, he had 16 points and 9 rebounds. He is also one of the better defenders on the team. Al will need to make him work on both ends of the court.
Celtics Bench vs Nets Bench
In the first meeting between these two teams, the Nets' reserves outscored their Celtics counterparts 38-13. Joe Harris posted 19 points while Caris LeVert finished with 15. The Nets have had 8 different reserves score 20 points in at least one game this season, the most in the league. Their bench has the second highest scoring average at 45.9 points per game. The Celtics reserves need to step up their game for the Celtics to get a win.
Player to Watch:
The Celtics have seen an assortment of former players come back to have big games against them this season, including Jonas Jerebko and Kelly Olynyk. The Celtics need to be careful not to allow Zeller to get open to be the next former Celtic to burn the team.
Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics played incredible defense to start the game and even though they have let their defense slip considerably in recent games, they are still the top defensive team with a defensive rating of 100.7, one tenth of a point better than the Warriors. Their defense will be tested against the Nets, who are averaging 107.5 points per game (8th). The Celtics are averaging just 103.3 points per game and so in order to win they are going to have to continue to make defense their priority and slow down the Nets' offense.
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. They can't let themselves play with less than 100% effort because they are playing the Nets. They have to be the team that plays harder.
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. As will the defense, the Celtics' rebounding has slipped in recent games. The Celtics are averaging 43.9 rebounds per game compared to 45.5 for the Nets. They need to crash the boards as a team in order to beat the Nets to the rebounds.
Take Care of the Ball - The Celtics have to stay focused and take care of the ball. They have to value every possession and make good passes and find the open man for the best open shots. They can't get sloppy and give the Nets extra chances by allowing them to steal the ball. The Nets are averaging 15.1 points off turnovers and so the Celtics need to limit their turnovers to keep them from getting extra points from them.
Play Hard 48 Minutes- The Celtics seem to have fallen into a rut of either falling behind early and have to claw their way back into the game or else they get up big early and then allow the opponent to come back to make them have to fight all the way down the stretch. The Celtics need to come out strong and play hard right through to the end and finally get a big wire to wire win.
Trap Game - The Celtics continue to hold on at the top of the league while the Nets are 10 games below .500 and fighting for every win. Both teams are missing a key player for the season and the Nets are missing a star point guard. But the Celtics can't take this team for granted because they are capable of pulling out a win if the Celtics let down their guard against them. The Nets have beaten the Cavs, Thunder, Wizards and Jazz by playing very hard each and every game. If the Celtics take them lightly, they are capable of making them pay.
Rested Home Team - The Celtics are home once again and we saw how great the Celtics crowd can be and how much they can motivate the team as they cheered the Celtics back from 26 points down to beat the Rockets. The Celtics need to continue to draw energy from the home crowd and hopefully the crowd can rattle the visiting Nets. Also, for the first time all month, the Celtics finally had a practice and an extra day of rest between game