Though there are still a few days separating us from game one of the impending first-round series between the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets, the tabloids have seemingly been non-stop when it comes to coverage surrounding the matchup of these two divisional rivals.
Ever since the Nets downed the Cleveland Cavaliers in this week’s decisive play-in game, news circuits have constantly been churning out any semblance of a storyline pertaining to this upcoming bout, likely in hopes of upping the intensity and increasing the friction felt between these two foes.
Luckily for them, such an arc has seemingly been presented.
Easily the most divisive story brought to light in regard to this Sunday’s postseason exhibition was found in the play-in’s postgame press conference, when Brooklyn guard, Bruce Brown, was asked what he believes will end up being the biggest key to slowing the Boston Celtics down in the upcoming series.
"“We got to be physical with them. Now they don’t have Robert Williams, so they have less of a presence in the paint, and we could attack Al Horford and [Daniel] Theis. So them not having Robert Williams is huge.”"
Now, to be completely fair, Brown’s statement isn’t entirely wrong.
Not having Time Lord available in the lineup has not been all that convenient for the shamrocks, as they immediately went on to drop two straight games following the announcement that he tore the meniscus in his left knee back in late March and would require surgery.
With Williams at the pivot, this team is a legitimate championship contender, and, if he were to be heading into the series ready to go, coming away victorious would almost certainly be a greater challenge for the Brooklyn Nets to accomplish.
Having said all this, however, it’s not as if Horford and Theis are scrubs.
Frankly, they’re far from being considered one, and it appears Brown’s own teammate, Kevin Durant, is well aware of this as well as he was outwardly displeased with the guard’s comments once it was his turn to head up to the postgame podium:
"“That’s caffeine pride talking. He take something before the game,” Durant said. “Them two dudes, they can do the same stuff. They ain’t going to be that easy, I tell you that. We respect our opponents.”"
Since Williams has been out, both big men have started four games together. During these outings, the Boston Celtics have gone undefeated and have blown out their opponents by an astonishing average point differential of 24.7.
On top of this, when in the lineup together we find Horford (one of the most underrated contributors for this team as a whole) posting impressive per-game averages of 14.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, four assists, and a block on 75 percent shooting from the floor and an incredible 67 percent shooting from deep while Theis is boating 12.8 points, six boards, and 1.4 assists on 56 percent shooting from the floor and 40 percent shooting from deep.
Both hold the top Defensive Ratings on the current roster (of those who have logged over 300 minutes) outside of Robert Williams and, throughout their careers, have proven to be highly-impactful rim protectors and overall contributors on the less glamorous side of the ball.
Because of their track records serving in these exact starting roles for the Boston Celtics both this year and, frankly, in the past as well, Horford and Theis should have already been heading into Sunday’s matinee with a healthy helping of confidence.
Now, with Bruce Brown’s recent comments, hopefully it adds a little extra motivation to try and completely annihilate the Brooklyn Nets right from the jump.