The Boston Celtics have a commanding 3-0 lead over the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, but that doesn’t mean that the series is over ...yet. There’s still a chance that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, two of the best difficult shot makers on the planet, start making difficult shots despite everything that the Celtics throw at them. But we’ve known that from the start of the series. Here are some additional things to watch for.
Officials for Celtics-Nets Game 4:— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) April 25, 2022
Do with this information what you will.
For those unfamiliar with his reputation, Scott Foster was once voted the worst NBA official by players and coaches.
“He had one of our playoff games and as soon as he walked in, I was like, ‘this game is over.’ We all knew we were going to get bad calls, and we did,” said one veteran player. “You couldn’t say anything to him. Hell, I don’t think you could even look at him.”
Now, I’m not one to focus too heavily on the refs. Typically, bad officiating impacts both teams and the one that is able to react and adjust has a better chance of winning.
What concerns me about this is the way the Celtics have been aggressively physical with Kevin Durant in this series. If the refs start calling fouls early and often on Boston, we’ve seen the team get affected and that sometimes bleeds into the rest of their game.
Ime is going to have to keep his guys focused. This is one of those situations where he might have to get T’d up in order to “take one for the team” and send a message of “let me worry about the officials, you focus on your job.”
It goes without saying that Rob is a difference maker. He only played 16 minutes in Game 3 based on a minutes restriction, but he still managed to make an impact. He had 2 rebounds, a block, an assist, and one monster alley-oop that everyone greatly enjoyed (well, except maybe Ben Simmons).
It sounds like there were no issues with his knee after the game. So how long will he be allowed to play tonight? How will Ime utilize him?
The Nets haven’t exactly been quick to adjust thus far in this series. Not only do the Nets have to deal with Williams roaming on defense now, but they have to account for him diving to the basket on offense as well. Even in limited minutes, he could be the difference between a win and a loss.
Boston native Bruce Brown has been an absolute revelation for the Nets recently. After averaging a mere 9 pts per game in the regular season, Mr. Caffeine Pride has delivered back-to-back 20+ point games. He’s shooting well from 3 and getting timely buckets, often out of chaos and extra effort plays.
So much of the Celtics’ defensive attention is being focused on Durant and Irving, that their secondary players are getting opportunities to make a difference. Those x-factor guys have to step up and deliver if they want to extend this series and avoid a sweep.