Kenny Atkinson
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The Brooklyn Nets are one of the hottest teams in the NBA, but the shorthanded Nets couldn’t stop the Boston Celtics on Monday.

The Brooklyn Nets dropped a game against one of the teams they’re currently chasing in the Eastern Conference standings. That being said, Monday night’s loss to the Boston Celtics is hardly anything to worry about.

The Nets are about as banged up as any team in the league right now. Caris LeVert is still out and Spencer Dinwiddie had successful surgery on Monday. Furthermore, Allen Crabbe, Treveon Graham, Jared Dudley, and Dzanan Musa were all out. Joe Harris is playing through some right hip soreness as well.

Mitch Creek (10-day contract) and Theo Pinson (two-way contract) played a combined 44 minutes tonight. Creek scored the first field goal of his career and played well in his minutes. Pinson struggled after a 19-point outburst on Friday night against the Knicks. But the fact that both players are playing major minutes shows how depleted the Nets are right now.

Brooklyn hung tough through three quarters, but they were clearly gassed in the fourth quarter and their offense stalled. D’Angelo Russell erupted for 14 of his 25 points in the third quarter and helped the Nets crawl back into the game.

But unfortunately, it looked like Russell expended all his energy in that third quarter. He only played three minutes in the fourth quarter and looked like he lost his legs. On one sequence, he was caught watching Jaylen Brown and the Celtics grabbed offensive rebound after offensive rebound. Marcus Morris eventually finished one of the putbacks and it felt like a turning point.

On the next possession, Russell pushed off with his right arm and was called for an offensive foul. He was pulled shortly thereafter, but head coach Kenny Atkinson clearly gave the message that they have to keep the big picture in mind.

The Boston Celtics were without Kyrie Irving, but the rest of his teammates picked up the slack. Brown and Marcus Smart finished with 21 points each while Aron Baynes added 16 off the bench.

The Celtics are the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference right now and they now have a 4.5 game lead over the sixth-place Nets. Monday could have been an opportunity for the Nets to gain some ground on Boston, but with the shorthanded unit, Atkinson clearly didn’t want to overextend anyone.

This loss snaps a six-game winning streak, but Brooklyn will have an opportunity to rebound quickly. The Nets travel home to host the Chicago Bulls in a very winnable game.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.