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Celtics close out the season with a visit from the Brooklyn Nets

The Celtics host the Brooklyn Nets as they close out the season and look toward the playoffs.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics and Nets meet for the 4th and final game this season. This is also the final game of the regular season for both teams. The Nets have been closing out the season strong with a 3 game win streak leading into this game. The Cavs own their pick, courtesy of the Celtics trade for Kyrie and so they have no reason to tank.

The Nets are 13-27 on the road and they are 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Nets have lost their last 8 games against the Celtics. The Celtics are 26-14 at home and are 6-4 in their last 10 games. They are playing in the second of back to back games and are 8-5 on the second night of back to back games.

All 3 games between these teams have been close. The Celtics won 109-102 at Brooklyn on November 14. The Celtics won at Boston 108-105 on December 31. And then, on January 6th, the Celtics won 87-85 at Brooklyn, just before they took of for their game in London. The Nets play hard and you have to take them seriously.

The Celtics have Kyrie Irving (knee), Daniel Theis (knee) Marcus Smart (thumb), Gordon Hayward (ankle) out for certain. Guerschon Yabusele is questionable with a sore knee. Terry Rozier and Al Horford are out for rest. Tatum, Brown and Morris will dress but won’t play unless needed.

The Nets also have a long list of injuries going into this game. DeMarre Carroll (hip), Joe Harris (ankle), Jeremy Lin (knee) and Isaiah Whitehead (wrist) are out for them. Caris LeVert has been out with a foot injury and is listed as probable for this game.

The final night of the season holds a lot of intrigue. The Western conference is pretty much completely up for grabs. The Celtics’ playoff opponent is still unknown and could be the Heat, Bucks, or Wizards. The Celtics could give one last parting shot to the Cavs by giving the Nets a win that could move their pick down a spot. It should be a wild night.

Probable Celtics Starters

Celtics Reserves
Jaylen Brown
Jayson Tatum
Marcus Morris
Semi Ojeleye
Kadeem Allen
Greg Monroe
Jonathon Gibson

Gordon Hayward (ankle) out
Marcus Smart (Thumb) out
Daniel Theis (knee) out
Kyrie Irving (knee) out
Guerschon Yabusele (knee) will play
Al Horford (out) rest
Terry Rozier (out) rest

Two Way Players
Jabari Bird
Kadeem Allen

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Probable Nets Starters

Nets Reserves
Quincy Acy
Dante Cunningham
Milton Doyle
Caris LeVert
Timofey Mozgov
Jahlil Okafor
Nik Stauskas
James Webb

Jeremy Lin (knee) out
DeMarre Carroll (hip) out
Joe Harris (ankle) out
Caris LeVert (foot) probable
Isaiah Whitehead (wrist) out

Two Way Players
Jacob Wiley
Milton Doyle

Head Coach
Kenny Atkinson

Key Matchups

Shane Larkin vs D’Angelo Russell
D’Angelo Russell missed the first 3 games between these two teams with a knee injury. He is averaging 15.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 5.2 assists on the season. Shane, or whoever starts, will need to slow him down.

Guerschon Yabusele vs Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Hollis-Jefferson is averaging 14.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. In the first game, between these two teams, he had 16 points and 9 rebounds and in the second game, he had 22 points and 12 rebounds. He is also one of the better defenders on the team.

Honorable Mention
Jabari Bird vs Spencer Dinwiddie
Dinwiddie started at the point in the first 3 games and put up decent numbers, scoring 20 points in the last game and 12 points and 11 assists in the first game. He is averaging 12.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense wins games. The Celtics are still tops in the league with a defensive rating of 101.5 Their defense will be tested against the Nets, who are averaging 106.7 points per game. The Celtics are averaging just 104.0 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 because the Nets always play hard themselves. 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. The Celtics are averaging 44.2 rebounds per game compared to 44.4 for the Nets. They need to give extra effort on 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 play hard and will try to disrupt the passing lanes and the Celtics have to be careful to keep them from doing so.

Final Game - It’s the final game of the season. The Celtics have nothing on the line to play for. They are locked into the 2nd seed and the biggest priority will be to finish the game with everyone healthy and on the same page going into the playoffs. Brad may choose to sit some of the players for rest or limit their minutes.

Back to Back - The Celtics are yet again playing on the second night of back to back games. Playing against the Wizards on Tuesday, they expended a lot of energy and so may not have the energy in this one to pull out if any of the rotation players sit and especially if the Nets play to win the game.

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