Game 1 of the first-round NBA Playoffs series between the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets will be played at Barclays Center on Saturday. This matchup between the No. 7 seed Celtics and the No. 2 seed Brooklyn Nets appears to be a one-sided affair owing to the latter having a 3-0 record against the former this season.
Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics will be missing the services of All-Star forward Jaylen Brown, whose season ended after he suffered a torn ligament in his left wrist two weeks ago. Center Robert Williams III may not be available for the game either.
In two of the three losses to the Brooklyn Nets, the Boston Celtics allowed their opponents to score 121 and 123 points. Against a high-octane scoring team that has three of the best scorers in the game in Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant, the Celtics simply cannot afford to give up that many points.
Fixture – Boston Celtics vs Brooklyn Nets | Game 1, 2021 NBA Playoffs
Date & Time – Saturday, May 22nd, 8:00 PM ET (Sunday, May 23rd, 5:30 AM IST)
Venue – Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Boston Celtics Preview
The Boston Celtics took the long route to get to the playoffs by going through a play-in tournament game. But as long as they’re here, it’s the only thing that matters to them and the Celtics faithful.
Coach Brad Stevens only has a few days to prepare for what could be the toughest playoff series of his career.
For the month of May, the Boston Celtics were just the 18th best defensive team in the league. They can’t afford to be so lax on defense while facing the Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics barely survived the regular season, winning just two of their eight games this month. Keeping the Nets from getting easy shots is thus a must.
Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier will have to step up their play in the postseason for the Boston Celtics to have any chance of winning a single game, let alone the series.
Key Player – Jayson Tatum
It took an otherworldly effort from Jayson Tatum to get to the postseason and he needs to repeat his heroics to help the Boston Celtics get past the Brooklyn Nets in this first-round matchup. Tatum needed to put up a 50-point masterpiece on Tuesday to lift his team past the Washington Wizards 118-100 in their play-in tournament matchup.
Without Brown in the lineup, Tatum will have to do more heavy lifting for his team to survive. Tatum’s numbers — 26.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, show that he’s capable of performing Jordanesque feats every now and then. Against an elite forward like Durant, the Boston Celtics forward will have to bring his A-game every night.
Tatum will have to tire out his Brooklyn Nets counterpart on defense to negate Durant’s contributions on offense.
Boston Celtics Predicted Lineup
Point Guard – Kemba Walker l Shooting Guard – Marcus Smart l Small Forward – Evan Fournier l Power Forward – Jayson Tatum l Center – Tristan Thompson
Brooklyn Nets Preview
In their last eight games of the season, the Brooklyn Nets went 5-3, failing to grab the first seed in the Eastern Conference. Nevertheless, coach Steven Nash should be delighted that his team is healthy heading into the playoffs. With almost a week of rest before the first game, it gives his superstars time to rest and recuperate from a long season.
Against the Boston Celtics, the Brooklyn Nets offense will have to be as potent as it was during most of the season. Harden’s return to the lineup fixed much of their offensive issues with an elite playmaker at the helm. Their offense ranked first this season but was merely eighth in the league in May with Harden playing just two games.
If the Brooklyn Nets want to reach the NBA Finals, they need this first round to straighten out their issues.
Key Player – James Harden
The Brooklyn Nets won the two games in which James Harden played this month. That’s a promising sign for a team that struggled without the 2018 MVP.
According to Statmuse, the Nets are 12-11 without James Harden since January 31. With him in the lineup, they went 29-7. These stats illustrate his importance to the team. Harden is now perhaps their most important player, even more so than Durant and Irving.
The Boston Celtics will have a difficult time trying to contain Harden as he is easily one of the most elusive players in the league. He’ll be guarded by Marcus Smart, an elite defender who will have his work cut out trying to contain the Brooklyn Nets guard.
Brooklyn Nets Predicted Lineup
Point Guard – James Harden l Shooting Guard – Kyrie Irving l Small Forward – Joe Harris l Power Forward – Kevin Durant l Center – Blake Griffin
Celtics vs Nets Match Prediction
The Boston Celtics have likely gone as far as they can this season and a first-round playoff series looks like the limit to their ride. Walker vs Irving will be one of the marquee matchups to watch out for along with the Tatum-Durant battle.
Therein lies the problem because there’s really no answer for Harden without Brown in a Boston Celtics uniform. The Brooklyn Nets have too much firepower with their Big 3 playing at the same time. Their supporting cast of Blake Griffin, Joe Harris, Landry Shamet and Bruce Brown are no slouches either.
Expect the Brooklyn Nets to rout the Boston Celtics in Game 1 and give them a taste of what’s to come throughout the series.
Where to Watch Celtics vs Nets?
Game 1 of the Boston Celtics vs Brooklyn Nets will be televised nationally by ABC. International viewers can watch the game live via NBA League Pass.
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