For a few, brief moments on Saturday, it looked as though the Boston Celtics might actually be able to mount a serious challenge against the seemingly unstoppable Brooklyn Nets. They led by as many as 12 points thanks to some effective switching on defense and poor shooting luck on Brooklyn’s part. But, eventually, order was restored. The Nets came back to win in a dominant second-half showing, and now, it’s Boston’s turn to try to turn things around.
Of course, they’ll have to do it with an undermanned roster. The Nets have largely returned to full strength while the Celtics are still without Jaylen Brown. That lack of offensive firepower was a real problem for Boston in the latter stages of Game 2, and everyone will have to step up if they plan to compete seriously against the Eastern Conference favorite. Here’s how you can tune in as they try to do just that.
(2) Brooklyn Nets vs. (7) Boston Celtics
Date: Tuesday, May 25 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ETLocation: Barclays Center — Brooklyn, New YorkTV: TNT | Live stream: TNTOdds: BOS +400; BKN -500 | O/U: 227 (via William Hill Sportsbook)
Featured Game | Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics
Nets: Brooklyn’s big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving scored 82 points in Game 1, but they did it on 44.8 percent shooting. All three struggled in the first half, and that is what led to their early deficit. In the grand scheme of things, it’s probably meaningless. They played only a handful of regular-season games together. There are going to be growing pains, and it was likely just an off-shooting night.
But those early struggles would have cost Brooklyn the game against Milwaukee or Philadelphia, and it goes to show how much room this group still has to grow. When all three Nets stars are humming, the team as a whole is going to score far more than 104 points. Each game they play in this series is an opportunity for the trio to improve their chemistry and come closer to the 48-minute offensive dominance that we expect out of them.
Celtics: Kemba Walker hasn’t looked nearly as explosive this season as he has in the past, and with Brown sidelined, Boston is relying on him to generate a lot of offense. He came up short in Game 1, shooting only 5-of-16 from the field and dishing out two meager assists.
Walker is on a max contract. Boston knows it isn’t going to win this series, but its future is tied into Walker remaining a star-level player. He looked completely out of place in Game 1, and if he can’t turn things around in the future, it won’t matter if Brown returns to the team healthy next season. Boston needs the superstar it signed, not the aging veteran that is struggling right now.
Boston built a 12-point lead on Saturday based on some of the worst shooting you’ll ever see from Brooklyn. The Nets didn’t hit a 3-pointer until midway through the second quarter… and they still won Game 1 by nine points. Be honest with yourself: do you really expect Brooklyn to struggle like that again? Boston could be better on offense, but without Brown, how high is their upside? If the Nets do what they’re supposed to, this will be a 20-point blowout. Don’t overthink it. Pick: Nets -9.5