No. 2 Brooklyn Nets (48-24) vs. No. 7 Boston Celtics (36-36)
- Game 1 Spread: Nets -8
- Over-Under: 229 points
- Game 1 Money Line: Nets -360, Celtics +290
- Series Odds: Nets -1300, Nets +790
Injury Report —
Spencer Dinwiddie, OUT, knee surgery
Chris Chiozza, OUT, hand surgery
Jaylen Brown, OUT, wrist surgery
Robert Williiams III, QUESTIONABLE, turf toe
Key Stats –
Boston – Lost 10-of-15 before play-in win over Washington, 16th in offense (112.6), 11th in defense (111.2), 10th in offensive rating (114), 14th in defensive rating (112.5), 21st in pace (98.3), 19th in FG% (46.6), 10th in 3pt% (37.4), 25th in FTA (20.8), 16th in TOV (14.1), 24th in fouling (20.4), 25th in FTA allowed (23.5), 22nd in 3pt% allowed (37.4), 4th in OREB (10.6)
Evan Fournier last 10 games – 16.6 PPG, 51.8% FG, 53.4% 3pt
Brooklyn – Won 5 straight to end season, 2nd in offense (118.6), 21st in defense (114.1), 1st in offensive rating (118.3), 23rd in defensive rating (113.8), 1st in FG% (49.4), 2nd in 3pt% (39.2), 13th in TOV (13.5), 21st in DREB% (77.3), 26th in turnovers forced (12.6) 9th in eFG% allowed (53.1)
Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, James Harden – 202 minutes, 8 games played, 119.6 OR, 112.5 DR, +7.2 per 100 possessions
The Nets are healthy for the first time all season and looking toward their NBA championship ambition. Their regular season finale became a high-flying offensive showcase with alley-oop slams and 123 points over Cleveland to clinch the two seed. Betonline.ag considers the favorite to win it all.
It’s no surprise the Celtics stand as little more than a speed bump on Brooklyn’s path to a championship in the eyes of oddsmakers. The biggest questions for Boston include whether they can win a single game and if their youth will absorb any lessons from the series.
“The odds are against us, we know what we’re up against,” Marcus Smart said today. “We just got to come out there and play … at this point we got nothing to lose.”
Brooklyn’s roster construction does open an opportunity seldom had all season for the Celtics to go wing-heavy and play small. The Nets will primarily feature Blake Griffin at center, which will allow Boston to take its centers off the floor and play Jayson Tatum, Evan Fournier, Kemba Walker, Smart and another shooter together. The problem for Boston is that it’s hard to name that fifth man.
Jaylen Brown will not play in the series. The Celtics’ bench struggled all year, especially when called up to front-line action. They’re also growing thin inside after trading Daniel Theis at the trade deadline and Robert Williams III fell injured with turf toe. He left Tuesday’s play-in game before halftime and did not return or practice the last two days. Williams is expected to try to play in the series, according to Shams Charania, and helped immensely with passing, rim protection and plays on loose balls.
The Nets highlighted Tristan Thompson’s offensive rebounding as a subtle disadvantage in practice, but Boston’s top-4 offensive rebounding is counteracted by Thompson’s own efficiency woes inside. Boston ranks 23rd in points per possession on put-backs.
Brooklyn does have defensive questions. Their personnel is ill-equipped to guard Jayson Tatum, fresh off his third 50-point game of the season in a win over the Wizards. He’s healthy, fresh and equipped to make passes out of doubles.
Without Brown, it’s less clear if his teammates will hit them, but Kemba Walker finished the season averaging 29.8 PPG in his final 10 games in a sign he could be equipped to keep each game competitive.
Another problem for the Celtics is that the Nets won all three regular season games in uncompetitive fashion. Brooklyn’s big three did not participate in any game, while Harden and Durant missed the third while Irving struggled. The Nets still won, that night 109-104, and by an average of 15 points.
“It’s really hard to take too much away from the season series, in that we kind of played them with three different teams,” Steve Nash said. “The last few weeks, (Tatum)’s capable of getting 50-60 points … the task is there for us to defend as a team … to be physical … he’s going to be handful.”
Prediction: Nets in 4