Brooklyn Nets: Worst-case play-in tournament scenario for BK

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 23: Joe Harris #12 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 23: Joe Harris #12 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets are gearing up for the postseason, as a team that will likely earn the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference will face one of the teams that snag one of the final spots in the East playoff picture thanks to the play-in tournament.

Russell Westbrook and the Washington Wizards, Caris LeVert’s Indiana Pacers, an exciting LaMelo Ball-led Charlotte Hornets squad, and an old rival in the Boston Celtics are the four teams looking to get a shot at the Nets, as they are trying to do the impossible by taking advantage of Brooklyn’s lack of interior presence.

With James Harden out for an extended period of time, Brooklyn has looked beatable of late, giving all of these teams some hope that they could pull off the upset if a few lucky bounces go their way.

The Nets did welcome Harden back into the fold against the San Antonio Spurs, and they are looking like a team that shouldn’t have difficulty with any of the play-in teams…in theory. However, even with Harden’s crazy bounce passes, some teams look like better matchups for Brooklyn than others.

Of the four teams the Nets could theoretically play in the play-in, the Celtics should be the squad that the Nets fear the most, as their playoff chops will be an invaluable asset when it comes to pulling off the upset.

The Brooklyn Nets should be fearful of the Boston Celtics in the NBA Play-In Tournament.

The Jaylen Brown injury is a major blow for the Celtics, but that doesn’t change the fact that Jayson Tatum is continuing to evolve into a star, Marcus Smart is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, and Brad Stevens is an exceptional coach (no matter what Boston talk radio might’ve told you).

As Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks proved, some of the fear factor that comes about whenever you play the Nets is taken away when a player like the Greek Freak can go shot for shot with Durant or any combination of star players. In Tatum, Boston has that one microwave that can get hot.

Defending the Nets starts at the perimeter, and Smart is still elite at that. Losing Brown hurts their defense, but Smart might be enough to ensure that either Irving or Harden has a tough night, crippling Brooklyn’s chances of leaning on their three stars to carry them to victories.

The Boston Celtics are equipped to handle the loss of Jaylen Brown.

Danny Ainge has hoarded draft picks at the sacrifice of adding another star player, but that strategy has helped them prepare for the loss of Brown. In addition to Evan Fournier, acquired from the Orlando Magic at the trading deadline, the Celtics can rely on a lottery pick in Aaron Nesmith, who has been shooting the lights out lately.

Kemba Walker has had some serious struggles this season, but he is still Kemba, and he might be able to flip the switch against a Brooklyn defense that will certainly not scare anyone. In the paint, the Celtics have a Time Lord that could give DeAndre Jordan and Nic Claxton some difficulties.

Robert Williams might not have the most varied offensive game, but he is starting to come into his own as one of the best young rebounders and interior defenders in this game. The Nets are still lacking in that department, and an inside-outside trio of Williams, Walker, and Tatum could be tougher for Brooklyn than anything Charlotte, Indiana, or Washington has.

The Nets have had success against the Celtics in the regular season, but Boston has plenty of battle-tested veterans and new sparkplugs that could make Brooklyn sweat. This might be the most likely option, but the Nets should be hoping for an upset or two in here.