It’s amazing to think that the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets could meet in the first round of the playoffs, but in order for that to happen, Boston has to finish their final five games strong and for the teams ahead of them to go on losing streaks at the worst time of the year. The Nets own the season series defeating the Celtics twice in three games. Tonight is shaping up to be a statement game as everyone who hasn’t either torn their ACL or had back surgery will be ready to play for Boston. This is not going to be an easy game for the Celtics as the Nets have a strong core group of players.
- With Kevin Garnett back, the Celtics must take advantage of whatever size they’ll be fielding tonight. Garnett can change the complexion of the rebounding situation, and having him down in the paint might give Boston more second chance opportunities off the glass on the offensive end. He’s also been known to start fast breaks as he’s always looking to immediately kick the ball out to the guards so they can begin the up-tempo offense, or at least set up the next possession in a timely manner. Garnett was one the factors in Boston’s win against the Washington Wizards, and will be just as important as he was on Sunday.
- The Celtics have to play with the same intensity on defense against Deron Williams that they had against John Wall. Williams alone could be the difference tonight as he has the capability to completely take over games. They must keep him in check and make sure he doesn’t have any passing or driving lanes to the basket. He’s another player I wouldn’t consider a true point guard, but if he’s distributing the ball to his teammates, especially in the paint, it could be a long night for Boston.
- A strong start to tonight’s game is a must. Getting everyone in the starting lineup involved and in a good rhythm would certainly cause headaches for the Nets, as the Celtics have multiple scoring threats in the starting five. Jeff Green needs to be aggressive early, but has to play smart. Against Washington he received unnecessary offensive fouls which took him out of the game, and he never become a factor for Boston. Paul Pierce and KG are two players who can carry this team to victory against their divisional foes, and having them on fire early with the crowd behind them would be a major boost for Boston who is making their final playoff push.
The last five games are important as they’ll give the team time to gel on the court and learn offensive plays before the playoffs begin. Tonight won’t be an easy task, but if Boston takes care of business and plays like they did Sunday, they’ll walk away with the victory. The Celtics take on the Miami Heat Friday, so gathering momentum with a win tonight could propel them past the red hot Heat.