Let’s take a look at the schedule, matchups, potential adjustments, odds, and more for this Nets-Celtics series.
Make no mistake about it, the Brooklyn Nets are going to roll the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. These two teams were pegged as Eastern Conference contenders at the beginning of the season, but Brooklyn’s blockbuster trade made them the contender in the East.
Meanwhile, the Celtics have underperformed expectations due to injuries, lackluster play, and wonky rotations. The Nets and Celtics have tangled in trade negotiations and free agency more than they have in the playoffs in recent years. Now, we get to see these two historic franchises square off on the big stage. What could be better?
Game 1 — Saturday, May 22 — 8 p.m. ET
Game 2 — Tuesday, May 25 — 7:30 p.m.
Game 3 — Friday, May 28 — 8:30 p.m.
Game 4 — Sunday, May 30 — 7 p.m.
Game 5 — TBD
Game 6 — TBD
Game 7 — TBD
Nets vs. Celtics Odds
Here are the current odds on this Nets-Celtics series:
PointsBet: Nets -1000 // Celtics +600
DraftKings: Nets -1430 // Celtics +700
FanDuel: Nets -1050 // Celtics +630
BetMGM: Nets -1100 // Celtics +700
Game 1 odds:
Nets Projected Starters:
PG — James Harden
SG — Kyrie Irving
SF — Joe Harris
PF — Kevin Durant
C — Blake Griffin
Celtics Projected Starters:
PG — Kemba Walker
SG — Marcus Smart
SF — Evan Fournier
PF — Jayson Tatum
C — Robert Williams
The Big 3 Finally Takes Off
The Nets were on cruise control during the regular season. Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving only combined to play in 133 of a possible 216 games this year. There are valid concerns about this team’s chemistry entering the playoffs, but feel free to ignore those red flags.
The overwhelming amount of talent in Brooklyn is going to be enough to overwhelm the Celtics in this series. Irving is having the best season of his career, Harden was an MVP candidate before a hamstring injury slowed him down, and Durant is still Durant. Brooklyn’s big three should have no problem coming together in the playoffs.
It’s tough to see any team, let alone one as dysfunctional as the Celtics, keeping the big three in check in a seven-game series. Most teams will probably be able to slow down one of Irving, Harden, and Durant. Some teams might even be able to take two out of the equation. But who has the defensive fortitude to keep all three down?
The Jayson Tatum Show?
Jayson Tatum put on a show in the play-in game against the Wizards. He dropped 32 in the second half en route to a 50-point outburst to secure Boston’s spot in the playoffs. Will Tatum be able to post a repeat performance in Game 1 against the Nets?
That’s the $1 million question right now. The Celtics are heavy underdogs entering this series and they will have absolutely no chance of beating the Nets if Tatum is anything short of outstanding.
Kemba Walker is on the decline, Marcus Smart is a great glue guy with an offensive ceiling, and Evan Fournier has been known to disappear in the playoffs. Tatum is the only guy on this roster who can take over a series. If Tatum can do enough to put the Celtics over the Nets, they might as well put his jersey up in the rafters at the Boston Garden.
Nets Defensive Issues
All year long, Nets haters pointed to two legitimate concerns. The first was the lack of chemistry and continuity with the big three sitting out so many games. The next was Brooklyn’s touch-and-go defense.
They ranked 22nd in the NBA in defensive rating (113.1) and have struggled to maintain any kind of consistency on that end of the floor. Rarely did the Nets look like a championship-caliber defense during the regular season.
However, there are two ways to optimistically look at this Brooklyn defense. First, Durant and Harden are two players who tend to up the defensive intensity in the playoffs. Second, Brooklyn’s offense really might be good enough where they can just outpace their opponents.
The Nets should have no problem beating up on the Celtics in the first round, but the defense is something to keep an eye on as this team goes deeper into the postseason.
Nets vs. Celtics Prediction
Nets in five.