The Nets will visit the TD Garden for the Celtics second and final preseason game. The Nets are also playing their second preseason game. The question that will be on everyone’s mind is whether or not Kyrie Irving will play. He has made an art of not playing in Boston or in Cleveland. But with no fans in the arena I’m guessing he will finally play his first game back in Boston.
The Nets won their first game 119-114 against the Wizards. They last played on Sunday and so have had plenty of time to work on any weaknesses they saw in their first game. They are fairly deep and they have Kyrie and KD but they also have a brand new first time coach and several new players to work into the rotation. They have the depth, but will they have the chemistry?
Both teams limited their starters in the first game and gave their reserves and young players plenty of time to show what they could do. The Nets stars played well in their first game coming back from injuries. Kyrie Irving scored 18 points in just 17 minutes in his first game since February. Kevin Durant scored 15 points in 23 minutes in his first game in 522 days.
On the other hand, the Celtics’ stars struggled in their first game. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum shot 1-11 and 4-13 respectively. In spite of the loss, there were some bright spots. Javonte Green started and played well. Jeff Teague and Payton Pritchard both impressed in their time on the court.
I have listed the same starters that started on Tuesday with Marcus Smart at the point and Javonte Green starting at the two. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jeff Teague or Payton Prichard start in this game after playing well in the first game. I’ve also listed the same Nets’ starters from Sunday’s game. If LeVert can play, he may go back to starting at shooting guard with Dinwiddie coming off the bench. It’s the preseason so it is impossible to predict who will start and who will play as coaches are still evaluating players.
The Celtics are struggling with injuries in camp with Tristan Thompson (hamstring), Kemba Walker (knee) and Romeo Langford (wrist) all missing the entire training camp. All 3 are expected to miss this game also. Daniel Theis missed Tuesday’s game with back tightness but is not on the injury list at this time so likely will return.
For the Nets, Nicolas Claxton (knee) is expected to miss the entire training camp with tendonitis in his knee. Caris LeVert missed Sunday’s game with a knee bruise. He is not on the injury list for this game but it is possible that he will be out. Steve Nash has said that LeVert is a starting quality player but doesn’t know if he will put him back into the starting lineup. Ellie Okobo is not yet with the team and will be out.
Possible Celtics Starters
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Javonte Green
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Robert Williams
Tacko Fall (2 Way)
Tremont Waters (2 Way)
Romeo Langford (wrist) out
Tristan Thompson (hamstring) out
Kemba Walker (knee) out
Daniel Theis (back) probable
Possible Nets Starters
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Spencer Dinwiddie
SF: Joe Harris
PF: Kevin Durant
C: DeAndre Jordan
Jeremiah Martin (2 Way)
Nicolas Claxton (knee) out
Caris LeVert (knee) probable
Elie Okobo (not yet with team) out
Marcus Smart vs Kyrie Irving
This may or may not be the starting point guard matchup. Marcus may start again, or Teague or Pritchard may get the call. Also, there is always the chance that even without any fans, Kyrie may decide not to play in Boston. Kyrie played very well in his first game, scoring 18 points to go with 1 rebound, 4 assists, and 1 steal in just 17 minutes. Marcus would love the chance to keep him from having a big game in this one.
Jayson Tatum vs Kevin Durant
Tatum struggled in his first game but hopefully will snap back and have a good game in this one. Durant had 15 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in his first game and, even though he may be a little rusty, he is still one of the best players in the league.
Keys to the Game
Rotation - In the preseason, winning and losing isn’t really important. Finding the right rotation and best pairings that work well together is important. We will likely see some odd lineups as Brad looks at players and lineups to see which ones play together the best.
Young Guys and New Guys - With only 2 preseason games, this will be the only time that Brad can watch the rookies, second year players and new guys against NBA competition. It will also be their chance to impress the coach and earn a spot in the rotation.
No Injuries - The Celtics are already dealing with several key injuries to rotation players. They need to finish the game without adding to the injury list.
Home Court - Ordinarily I would say that the fact that the Celtics are at home would be an x-factor. The crowd at the Garden is always a great home advantage but with no fans, I’m not sure how much of an advantage being at home will be other than the fact that they get to sleep and eat at home and are more familiar with the arenas.
Pride - Both Jaylen and Jayson signed big contracts and then struggled in their first preseason game. Hopefully their pride will spur them on to a much better game in this one and that means that the Celtics would play much better. Their play and leadership will determine how far the Celtics go this season.