The Brooklyn Nets are one of the NBA’s most unique teams this NBA season. They have three of the best players in the league in Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. However, in 72 games, the trio has only played seven games together this season. The team even without their stars healthy at the same time was able to secure the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The Nets have proven themselves that as long as one of their stars is healthy that they can win games. If two of the three are healthy they can compete against top seeds.
The Boston Celtics are in the same boat as the Nets. Although the Celtics do not have three stars on their rosters, the team has been plagued with injuries. Throughout the season impact players such as Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Kemba Walker have been in and out of the lineup dealing with injuries. Walker is still nursing a knee injury that he sustained last season and has not been fully healthy all season long. Brown is out for the remainder of the season after having wrist surgery.
Both teams have taken hits from the injury bug, but the Nets have a healthier roster going into the playoffs. The Nets should have all three stars to start the series. Harden is returning from a hamstring injury, so his minutes could possibly be reduced to not further aggravate the injury. The Celtics will be without Brown during the whole playoffs and will need to limit Walker if his knee starts to flare up after strenuous games.
Series – Boston Celtics: +900
Series – Brooklyn Nets: -2000
The series odds are heavily in Brooklyn’s favor. -2000 is a safe bet to place on a team loaded with superstars. Although betting on Brooklyn would not give out a huge reward, it will indicate a winning bet. With the Celtics missing one of their best players, this series could have the safest return in the first round.
With that said, Boston is known to have a fight. Most sports teams from Boston have championship-caliber DNA, as in years past the Celtics have overachieved in the playoffs. It seems whenever the Celtics are down bad going into the playoffs, players step up in the big moments. Tatum and Brown are players who have seen success and fame from their playoff performances. With that said, betting the Celtics would not be a long shot to win. Although the chances are extremely low, the Celtics have a capable roster and have a lot of playoff experience.
Jayson Tatum vs The Big Three
Without Brown in the playoffs, Tatum will have to take a very large step in production. As seen in the play-in game against the Washington Wizards, Tatum had to drop 50 points to secure the Celtics victory. For the Celtics to win this series, Tatum should average over 30 points a game. The forward will also need to take on the duty of guarding Durant, Harden, and even Irving.
Even with capable defenders on the roster that include Romeo Langford and Grant Williams, Tatum needs to take the place of the missing Brown. Brown is an incredible defender, and Tatum needs to fill in those shoes. The big three in Brooklyn are all offensive-minded players. Brooklyn is amongst the worst defenses when all the players are on the court. If Tatum can disrupt one of the three players a game and score a ton of points, the Celtics have this series on lock. This is a very tall and possibly unreasonable task to ask the young forward, but Tatum could get it done. The Celtics will be riding on Tatum’s momentum all the way through this series.
It is rare to see a key matchup between coaches. But, Stevens is one of the NBA’s smartest coaches. Nash was at one time one of the NBA’s smartest point guards. Seeing both coaches with different backgrounds go head to head is always a treat. Both coaches have their specialties. Stevens is a defensive-minded coach that loves to draw up inbounding plays. While Nash is a coach that loves to use the pick and roll and five out system.
Nash is in his rookie coaching year, while Stevens has eight years of NBA coaching experience. Stevens has also been to the Eastern Conference Finals three times in his tenure, and Nash is trying to reach that goal in his first year. Although Nash does have a better roster, coaching can affect the team’s performance and the series outcome.
Boston Celtics X-Factor: Romeo Langford’s Defense
Langford is an incredible defender. The sophomore guard has proven that no opponent is too much to defend in his time in the NBA. The young guard can defend four out of the five positions. Langford needs to take a step up and be the main defender against Harden. If Langford can limit Harden and his shooting, then Tatum can relax more on the defensive side of the ball.
Having a defender such as Langford is huge for the Celtics in this situation. Just like former NBA player and Boston Celtic Tony Allen, Langford’s contributions on the defensive side of the ball were game-changing. Langford is still raw on the offensive side of the ball, so Stevens focuses the guard on defense so that the team does not have to rely on him taking shots. If successful, not only will the Celtics come out and win the series, but Langford will be a hot commodity for the future of Boston.
Brooklyn Nets X-Factor: Health
As long as the Nets stay healthy in this series, it will be tough for them to lose the series. As mentioned many times before, the team has three incredible players. Durant and Harden were former MVPs of the league, and Irving has been one of the league’s most dominant point guards. Harden is averaging 24.6 points, Durant is averaging 26.9 points, and Irving is averaging 26.9 points. The three of them are averaging 78.4 points a game, which is incredible for a big three. An offensive stat-line like this is a unicorn in the NBA.
But even so, Harden only played 44 games this season, as he missed 39 percent of the season. Durant only played in 35 games, as he missed 52 percent of the season. Irving was the best of the three as he played in 54 games this season only missing 25 percent of the season. The NBA has seen untimely injuries in playoff series that have cost a team the chance of winning. In 2019, against the Toronto Raptors, Durant tore his Achilles. The Golden State Warriors, Durant’s team at the time, went on to lose that series after that momentum shift of losing Durant. If the Nets can stay healthy, this series is theirs.
Prediction: Brooklyn Nets 4, Boston Celtics 3
The Nets swept the Celtics in the regular-season series 3-0. Two of the three games were close games decided by a late fourth-quarter push. The Nets will have to be careful in this series, as Tatum alone can carry this Celtics team to a few wins.
The Nets are a team that is projected to be in the Eastern Conference Finals, and many even have them in the Finals. But, Tatum and the Celtics are a scary matchup, as mentioned before both Tatum and the rest of the team always turn up in the playoffs. This series will not be a sweep, and to be honest, the Celtics have a chance to win this series. It is plausible to see an upset in this series if the big three in Brooklyn come into the series lackadaisical.
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