For a few brief moments on Saturday, it looked like the Boston Celtics might actually be able to take on a serious challenge against the seemingly unstoppable Brooklyn Nets. They led with no less than 12 points thanks to efficient switching in defense and poor shooting luck from Brooklyn. But, eventually, order was restored. The Nets came back to win in a dominant second-half performance, and now it’s Boston’s turn to try to turn things around.
Of course, they will have to do it with a shortlist. The Nets have largely returned to full strength while the Celtics are still without Jaylen Brown. That lack of offensive firepower was a real issue for Boston in the later stages of Game 2, and everyone will need to step up if they consider seriously competing against the Eastern Conference favorite. Here’s how you can log in while they’re trying to do just that.
(2) Brooklyn Nets vs. (7) Boston Celtics
- Dated: Tuesday May 25 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Barclays Center – Brooklyn, New York
- TV: TNT | Direct: TNT
- Chances: BOS +400; BKN -500 | OR: 227 (via William Hill Sportsbook)
Featured Game | Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics
Nets: Brooklyn’s big three Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving scored 82 points in Game 1, but they did so with 44.8 percent shots. All three struggled in the first half, and that’s what led to their early deficit. In the grand scheme of things, that probably doesn’t make sense. They’ve only played a handful of regular season games together. It’s going to be growing pains, and it was probably just a night of filming.
But those early struggles would have cost Brooklyn the game against Milwaukee or Philadelphia, and it shows just how much room this group still has to develop. When all three Nets stars are buzzing, the team as a whole will score well over 104 points. Every game they play in this series is an opportunity for the trio to improve their chemistry and move closer to the 48-minute offensive dominance we’ve come to expect of them.
Celtics: Kemba Walker hasn’t looked as explosive this season as he once was, and with Brown sidelined, Boston is counting on him to generate plenty of offense. He failed in the first game, shooting just 5 of 16 from the field and distributing two meager assists.
Walker is on maximum contract. Boston knows he won’t win this series, but his future hinges on Walker remaining a star-level player. He looked completely irrelevant in Game 1, and if he can’t change things in the future, it doesn’t matter if Brown returns to the squad healthy next season. Boston needs the superstar she signed, not the aging veteran who is struggling right now.
Boston built a 12-point lead on Saturday based on some of the worst shots you’ve ever seen from Brooklyn. The Nets didn’t hit a 3 point before the middle of the second quarter… and they still won the first game by nine points. Be honest with yourself: do you really expect Brooklyn to struggle like this again? Boston could be better offensively, but without Brown what’s their advantage? If the Nets do what they’re supposed to do, it’ll be a 20-point blast. Don’t think too much about it. Picks: Nets -9.5