Brooklyn Nets (20-60) at Boston Celtics (51-29)
Monday, April 10, 2017
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #81 Home Game #40
TV: CSNNE, YES, NBA-LP 753(DTV)/752(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WFAN 101.9
The Celtics host the Brooklyn Nets as Cleveland's losses leave the door open for the Celtics to get the #1 seed. This is the 4th and final meeting between these two teams this season. They split the series 2-2 last season with each team winning once at home and once on the road. The Celtics are 3-0 so far this season and are looking for the season sweep of the series.
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. 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 won 111-92. Sean Kilpatrick led 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.
Their 3rd meeting was on March 17. The Celtics were without Isaiah Thomas with Marcus Smart starting in his place. The Nets were led by Brook Lopez with 23 and Randy Foye with 14. The Celtics squeaked out a 98-93 win in this one, surviving a couple of missed 3 pointers by the Nets in the final seconds.
The Nets have already clinched the worst record in the league for the Celtics to have the best odds at landing the #1 pick in the draft lottery. The Celtics playoff seeding is, however, still up in the air. They need the win to clinch the second seed and the Atlantic Division crown as the Raptors are right behind them in the standings, just one game back.
Amir Johnson and James Young missed the Charlotte game on Saturday with the stomach bug that has been going around the team and the league. They are listed as a game time decision for this one but both were spotted on the practice court for shoot around and so it looks like they may be available to play. For the Nets, Quincy Acy (ankle) and Joe Harris (shoulder) are listed as out. Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring) is a game time decision.
The Cavs have lost 2 in a row to the Atlanta Hawks. On Sunday, the Cavs led by 24 and lost in OT. With those 2 losses, the Celtics are once again tied with the Cavs for the first seed but the Cavs own the tie breaker. According to reports, the Cavs will sit their stars for tonight's game against the Heat, who are playing for their playoff lives in this one. If the Celtics can win out and Cleveland loses tonight, the Celtics may benefit by being able to avoid the Raptors in the second round.
The Raptors are just 1.5 games behind the Celtics in 3rd place. The Wizards are 3 games back in 4th place.
As for the playoff matchups, the Pacers are #7, Bulls #8 (1 game behind the Pacers) and the Heat are #9 tied with the Bulls, with the Bulls owning the tie breaker. Pretty much every one of the Eastern conference games have something on the line as far as seeding.
Games to Watch
3/10 Cleveland at Miami
Washington at Detroit
Indiana at Philadelphia
Orlando at Chicago
3/12 Washington at Miami,
Toronto at Cleveland
Nets at Bulls
Celtics at Bucks
Probable Starting Matchups
Isaiah Thomas vs Jeremy Lin
Avery Bradley vs Randy Foye
Jae Crowder vs Caris Levert
Al Horford vs Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Amir Johnson vs Brook Lopez
Amir Johnson (illness) game time decision
James Young (illness) game time decision
Joe Harris (shoulder) out
Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring) game time decision
Quincy Acy (ankle) out
Amir Johnson vs Brook Lopez
Lopez is a challenge to defend. He is averaging 20.5 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. If Amir is out Kelly Olynyk will more than likely start in his place again.
Isaiah Thomas vs Jeremy Lin
Lin missed the first two games with an injury and Isaiah missed the third meeting so this will be the first game that the two are matched up. Lin always seems to have a big game vs the Celtics. He is averaging 14.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 5.1 assists.
Bench vs Bench
The Celtics need to get production from their bench. They have been inconsistent and the Celtics need to be able to depend on them for both scoring and defense. The Nets bench has averaged 52 points per game in April and the Celtics reserves must defend and do some scoring themselves.
Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics have been up and down defensively but when they lock in and decide to play tough team defense, they are very good. The Nets are playing some good defense in recent games. They have held 5 of their last 11 opponents under 100 after holding only 5 of the first 69 under 100. Since March 21, the Nets have the 3rd best defensive rating. Defense wins games and the Celtics will need to match the Nets' defensive intensity.
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 the Nets are playing very hard and so the Celtics must match that effort. 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. It will take extra effort from the Celtics to win the battle of the boards.
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 Celtics must keep their focus and be very careful not to give the Nets extra possessions.
Don't Underestimate the Nets - The Nets have every reason to play hard and be motivated to get the win in this one. They have to resent the Celtics for fleecing them out of their draft picks. They also are a division rival so there is a natural desire to beat them. The Nets are 4-1 in April and 6-4 in their last 10 so the Celtics can't take them for granted. The Nets have been playing very well, especially in April so far and if the Celtics underestimate them and play the record rather than the team, they will end up on the losing end.
Motivation - The Celtics are surprisingly still in the hunt for first seed in the East. With the Cavs losing two in a row to the Hawks and facing a very motivated Heat team on Monday after going to OT on Sunday and an equally motivated Raptors team on Wednesday, the door may be open for the Celtics to pass them. But, it won't happen if they come in and give a half hearted effort as they did against the Cavs and the Hawks. If they want the first seed, and even the second seed, they have to come in motivated and put out the extra effort to get it.
Home Game - The Celtics are home and have played very well there this season. They will have a playoff atmosphere from the crowd and they need to use that to pump them up to play their best. The Nets have won just 7 games on the road this season and so the Celtics need to use home court to their advantage.
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.