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Celtics look to improve their draft pick with a win over the Brooklyn Nets

The Celtics hope to improve their draft pick as they look to get a win over the Brooklyn Nets. They will be without their leading scorer, however, and will need to have everyone step up to get the win.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics (43-25) at Brooklyn Nets (13-54)
Friday, March 17, 2017
7:30 pm ET
Game #69, Road Game #37
TV: CSNNE, YES, NBA-LP 754(DTV)/753(xfinity)
98.5 Sports Hub, WFAN 101.9
Barclays Center
Referees: John Goble, Steve Anderson, David Guthrie

The Celtics visit the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center in the first of two weekend road games. This is the third of 4 meetings between these two teams this season. They will meet again for the 4th and final time in Boston on April 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. They met a second time in Brooklyn on 11/23 when the Celtics win 111-92. Sean Kilpatrick let the Nets with 23 points and three blocks off of the bench while Trevor Booker added a double double with 18 points, 12 rebounds and four steals.

The Celtics have won their last 2 games and 3 straight over the Nets. The Nets are coming off a win over the Knicks and should have their confidence up and be ready to give the Celtics a fight. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games while the Nets are 3-7 in their last 10. The Celtics are 20-16 on the road while the Nets are just 8-25 at home.

The Nets aren't tanking because the Celtics have the right to swap picks with them and so will own the Nets pick while the Nets will own the Celtics pick. If the Nets were ever motivated to get a win this season, it should be in this game as they could improve their own draft position by giving the Celtics a loss.

The Nets are playing in the second of back to back games after playing in New York on Thursday night. This is their 12th back to back set of the season with two more back to back sets to go before the end of the season. They are 0-11 so far this season on the second night of back to back games.

Joe Harris (concussion), Trevor Booker (leg injury), and Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring) sat out the game against the Knicks on Thursday and are listed out for this game. Isaiah Thomas suffered a bone bruise on his knee in the Celtics' win over the Timberwolves and didn't make the trip to Brooklyn to play the Nets. Marcus Smart is expected to start in his place.

Standings Reset
The Celtics are 2.5 games behind the Cavs who beat Utah on Thursday in Kevin Love's return to the lineup.
The Celtics are 1.5 games ahead of the Wizards who lost their last game at home to the Mavs
The Celtics are 4 games ahead of the Raptors who lost at home on Thursday to the Thunder.
The Celtics are 5.5 games ahead of the Hawks who lost to Memphis at home on Thursday.

Games to Watch: Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors at Detroit Pistons.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

Marcus Smart vs Jeremy Lin

Shooting Guard
Avery Bradley vs Randy Foye

Small Forward
Jae Crowder vs Caris Levert

Power Forward
Al Horford vs Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

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

Isaiah Thomas (bone bruise) out

Head Coach

Brad Stevens

Nets Reserves
Quincy Acy
Trevor Booker
Spencer Dinwiddie
Archie Goodwin
Justin Hamilton
KJ McDaniels
Andrew Nicholson
Isaiah Whitehead

Joe Harris (concussion) out
Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring) out
Trevor Booker (leg) out

Head Coach
Kenny Atkinson

Key Matchups
Amir Johnson vs Brook Lopez
Lopez is a challenge to defend. He is averaging 20.5 points, 5.1 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.

Marcus Smart vs Jeremy Lin
Lin missed the first two games with an injury but is back and playing well for the Nets. He always seems to have a big game vs the Celtics. He is averaging 14.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 4.9 assists.

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 105.1 points per game but have tightened that up even more the past few games. The Nets are allowing 114.2 points per game and have struggled with defense. Defense wins games and so the Celtics have to continue to make 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. 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. 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
- 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. On the other hand, the Nets are averaging 17 turnovers a game and if the Celtics play good defense they may be able to get extra possessions by making the Nets turn the ball over.

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 have done that with other teams like the Kings with their top players out. 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 or play their record, especially with Isaiah out. The Nets have won 2 of their last 3 and may be making a push to try to stop the Celtics from getting the top pick and winning would improve their own pick from the Celtics.

St Patrick's Day
- With the Celtics playing on St Patrick's Day, you would expect the luck of the Irish to be with them. Hopefully the Nets don't have green jerseys like the Knicks and Bulls wear as that would be very tacky. But, hopefully the Celtics will have a bit of karma going for them on St Patty's Day.

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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