The Boston Celtics 51-31 will face the Brooklyn Nets 44-38 for the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs.
Brooklyn vs. Boston 🍿
For the second straight year, the Nets will face the Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs. pic.twitter.com/cnUtImRwHE
— Sports Center (@SportsCenter) April 13, 2022
After beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1, the Nets look solid.
They’ve won their last five games, but can they survive an impressive Celtics side?
Boston went 28-7 in its final 35 games of the season.
It’s a fight between two of the Eastern Conference superpowers.
The series pits Brooklyn stars in their 30s – who have won titles – against Boston ringless stars in their 20s.
Boston finished with the second seed, as the top teams in the Eastern Conference vied for position.
The Milwaukee Bucks have seated the majority of their players to give themselves a good shot at the No. 3 seed.
They got it and they got the Chicago Bulls – who have the 11th-best point differential in the East (-0.4) this season.
Meanwhile, the Celtics’ victory on the final day of the season pushed the Philadelphia 76ers to the No. 4 seed, and they will be without Matisse Thybulle for road games in Toronto.
So where do we stand with Boston and Brooklyn, and who will win the series?
Let’s start by breaking down the lists.
The Nets starters are as follows:
Brooklyn is made up of Durant and Irving along with a supporting cast.
The surprising third goalscorer in the qualifying game was Brown, who attempted a team-record 19 shots.
Brown went for 18 points to complement Irving’s 34 and Durant’s 25.
As Cleveland attempted to force the ball out of the hands of Durant and Irving, the two superstars each had at least 11 assists.
Meanwhile, the Celtics starters are as follows:
With Tatum and Brown, the Celtics without Robert Williams followed the two big man approach of Horford and Theis.
Boston is a defensive team that has improved on both ends of the court over the season.
Behind Smart, candidate for the position of defensive player of the year, Boston will try to slow down Durant and Irving.
Brooklyn’s bench rotation includes Nic Claxton, Goran Dragić, Kessler Edwards and Patty Mills.
They combined for 22 points in qualifying play, with 3 for 10 shooting from 3-point range.
The Nets starters went 6 for 18 from range, including an 0 for 4 from Curry.
On the other bench, the Celtics have Payton Pritchard, Derrick White and Grant Williams as part of a tight rotation.
While the Celtics await the return of Robert Williams III, Boston hopes to get off to a good start against Brooklyn.
So when can Boston hope to get their big man back?
Are reinforcements coming for both teams?
Celtics fans can rejoice because Williams is reportedly back soon, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
— Tolga Arbuz (@semioticus) April 13, 2022
Williams – the leader of the Basketball-Reference defensive rankings – will be an important asset for the Celtics.
He will help the Celtics prevent the Nets from being able to capitalize near the hoop.
Another big question mark in this series is: will Ben Simmons play?
He should be back by Game 4, according to Brian Windhorst.
If so, it could also transform the series.
Who will win?
With both players potentially returning, the Celtics should be the favorites to win the series.
My prediction: the Celtics in 7.