Brooklyn Nets: Biggest weakness of all possible first-round opponents

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 23: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics dribbles as Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets defends (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 23: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics dribbles as Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets defends (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets have overcome a slow start, constant injury problems, and the necessity of figuring out how to split shots between Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden to become the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, meaning they will await the winner of the Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards play-in game.

Both of the teams will come in as huge underdogs, as the Celtics have a terrific infrastructure thanks to Jayson Tatum and Brad Stevens, and the Wizards are white-hot thanks to the play of Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal.

The NBA’s convoluted play-in formula means that while Boston and Washington will have to lose twice to miss the postseason, the winner of this game will automatically skip that second contest and get ready for a matchup against one of the most talented teams in the game in Brooklyn.

Both Boston and Washington have issues that the Nets can expose if they want to come out on top and keep their championship hopes alive.

What are the biggest holes in the Brooklyn Nets’ potential opponents?

Washington Wizards: Interior defense

Daniel Gafford has been an amazing help in this department, but the Wizards are still lacking on the interior after Thomas Bryant was lost for the season very early in this campaign. The Nets have plenty of perimeter scorers, but who will stop one of the stars as they drive to the basket for a layup?

The Wizards do have Gafford, but he can’t play 48 minutes. Alex Len was so bad he got cut by a Toronto Raptors team that was last in rebounding. Forget about DeAndre Jordan or Blake Griffin at the center spot; all it takes is one bad switch on the perimeter and their center will get turned into barbecue chicken.

Scott Brooks also presents a schematic issue for Washington. Go look back to his Oklahoma City days, when he coached Westbrook, Durant, and Harden. His style of play is not conducive to great defensive numbers, and the Nets have already proven that they can take advantage.

The Nets aren’t the early 2000s Pistons on defense, but they have improved since their last meeting, which could end up being enough to give them the edge against a Washington team that was destined for a high lottery pick before Westbrook got hot.

Boston Celtics: Injuries/Lack of Depth

The Celtics might be the toughest matchup that the Nets could end up with as a result of this play-in tournament, but they have their own set of problems they are currently working through. Like the Nets, Tatum and the Celtics haven’t been truly healthy all season long, and they won’t be healed by the time the postseason comes around.

Jaylen Brown is out for the season thanks to an injury, and while players like Evan Fournier and ascending rookie Aaron Nesmith could cause problems for the Nets, none of them will be able to replicate what Brown can do on both ends of the floor.

Teams have had success attacking the Nets through the paint, and while Robert Williams is one of the better rim-running bigs in the league, Brooklyn need not worry about him completely taking the game over considering how his effectiveness starts to go down.

The Nets shouldn’t overlook either of these potential opponents, but they have two glaring holes that Brooklyn should be able to exploit in order to pull out the victory. With enough offensive firepower to handle whatever these teams will be able to throw at them, the Nets should go into the playoffs with a ton of confidence and plans to win the first championship in franchise history.