The Boston Celtics are currently enjoying their best patch of the young 2021-22 NBA season, riding a three-game win streak in which they have beaten the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Houston Rockets. Now, they will have a chance to build even more momentum when they meet the Brooklyn Nets in the Boston Garden Wednesday evening.
Boston’s 10-8 season record is currently the seventh-best mark in the Eastern Conference and level with the New York Knicks, who are pushing Boston into the play-in tournament as of today. The Nets have control of the conference at 13-5, giving the C’s a tremendous chance to launch into the meat of the regular season with a momentous victory.
Boston’s Young Season
The new NBA season has barely been going on for a month, but Boston has already had its fair share of headline-filling news.
First and foremost, Marcus Smart’s comments about Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown’s selfishness shocked the public and hinted that the Bostonians could be in for a long season. Smart is the emotional leader of the team, but leaking those comments to the media showed how frustrated he was just a couple of weeks into the campaign.
After that came Jaylen Brown’s injury, which was only remedied recently; in Brown’s first and only game back from his ailment, he notched 19 points and three rebounds in 22 minutes against the Rockets.
Other stories lost in the backdrop of the season are Dennis Schroder’s desire to play for a new contract after a failed gamble lost him almost $80 million this offseason, the return of former All-Star Al Horford, and an inaugural campaign for new Head Coach Ime Udoka.
Matching Up With the Nets
Boston’s meeting with Brooklyn reincarnates the first round of last year’s playoffs, a series in which the Nets emerged victorious 4-1. The only game that Boston won in that series was one in which Tatum dropped 50 points, allowing his team to escape with a narrow six-point win.
Even though the Nets have the same name and many of the same faces, they are not the same force that they were in the most recent playoffs— in fact, they have lost some of their swagger, with James Harden having a down year and their defense being shambolic at times.
The key, as it always is, will be to slow down Kevin Durant, who is currently a top-three MVP candidate with a 28.5-point, 7.8-rebound, 5.1-assist average. The fact that Jaylen Browns is back, even if he does not have his sea legs under him, allows Boston to throw another physical and athletic defender at him, which could pay dividends.
If the Celtics want to pull off the upset over the conference leaders, they will need to continue to get production from Schroder, who is scoring at a 23.3-point per game clip over his last seven appearances.
Any game against the Nets could easily evolve into a shootout, but with Boston’s recent performances and shooting from the perimeter, they should actually have a fairly decent chance of knocking off their rivals and sending a message to the rest of the league. They are also in a win-win situation because a loss would be expected, and a win would be a launching point for potential greatness.
Wednesday’s game will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. ET in TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.