The Brooklyn Nets get their second chance at the Celtics


Coming off an impressive 111-87 win over the Miami Heat on Friday night, the Brooklyn Nets close out 2017 in Boston. The Celtics are coming off a controversial, comeback win against Houston. This will be a great division matchup for the Nets going into the new year.

The Brooklyn Nets are looking to string two wins together, while the Boston Celtics are looking for their 30th win on the year. The Nets are 6-12 on the road. Boston is a robust 15-5 at home.

The herculean task for the Brooklyn will be stopping Kyrie Irving, who’s averaging nearly 25 points per game. Defensively, Caris LeVert appears to be a good match up for the Nets against Irving. Given his hot streak of late, look for LeVert to get a lot of minutes again tonight.

What makes the Celtics so dangerous, however, is their depth. Rookie Jayson Tatum, who was drafted with the third overall pick in 2017, is averaging 14.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. And he’s doing so on over 47 percent shooting from three point range.

Second year guard Jaylen Brown is trending to play tonight as well, and will be a game-time decision.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and DeMarre Carroll will be relied upon to defend Boston’s young wings.

Al Horford leads Boston in rebounds and assists, with 7.9 and 5.3 per game respectively. The Nets have had trouble dealing with opposing big men all season. Look for Jarrett Allen to get some key minutes trying to continue Horford.

MUST READ: The guy trying to make Spencer Dinwiddie an All-Star

Boston ranks second in the NBA in defensive points per game allowed at 98.3. For Brooklyn, everything starts on the defensive end as well. Defense plays into the team’s transition game, and allows its perimeter shooters to get involved. Joe Harris and Nik Stauskas will look to continue their success from range.

Players to watch for the Nets are LeVert, Hollis-Jefferson and Allen. The young Nets have been in sync lately, and can swing the momentum with some highlight reel plays on offense.

For the Celtics, keep an eye on Marcus Smart, who can get under the skin of the Nets guards. He’s as gritty as they come on the defensive end, and will be a handful for LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie to deal with. Kenny Atkinson will have to keep his young team composed against the Celtics.

Prediction: This is a tough road game on New Year’s Eve for the Nets. Brooklyn will keep it close as they have in many games this season. But they won’t be as efficient as they were in Miami because of Boston’s stout defense. So, the Celtics will likely prevail in tonight’s game 110-104.