With three minutes left in the play-in game and the Celtics up comfortably against the Wizards, a “we want Brooklyn” chant started echoing through the rafters of TD Garden with Boston’s first round opponent now in view.
After the game, head coach Brad Stevens was effusive about his admiration for what the Nets have put together in Brooklyn. “We’ll do our best to get ready for Brooklyn. They’re the best of the best,” Stevens said. “As a fan of the NBA, it’s hard to see those guys losing. We’re going to have to play great and play great together.”
The Celtics were 0-3 against the Nets in the regular season, including an early season blowout and two competitive games in March and April. The Nets are “probably the most talented team that’s been put together since I’ve been in the NBA,” Stevens said.
That’s hard to argue against. They’re loaded with former MVP’s Kevin Durant and James Harden, former Celtics Kyrie Irving and Jeff Green, and have built a supporting cast of shooters and big men headlined by Blake Griffin and Joe Harris.
And the Celtics have earned the right to take them down. “It’s really hard to make the NBA Playoffs. I just told our guys, “everybody’s path is different and every year presents unique challenges.’ We’ve been though a lot and we’re hardened in a lot of ways,” Stevens said.