NBA In-Season Tournament: Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets– TD Garden – 7:30 pm (ET)
As the Celtics take a break from the NBA regular season, we turn our attention to the highly anticipated NBA In-Season Tournament where we face the Brooklyn Nets for our opening matchup. The Boston Celtics lost their grip on their undefeated run with back-to-back losses against the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Philadelphia 76ers. With a victory over the Nets occurring a week ago, can they capitalize and get back to winning ways against their Atlantic Division opponents?
Here’s how we did the last time we faced the Nets:
Can Boston Celtics put back-to-back losses behind them and beat Nets again?
The Boston Celtics host the Brooklyn Nets for their opening In-Season Tournament fixture. A tournament that has divided NBA fans between those against it, and those who are just excited to watch more basketball. The courts themselves have stirred up some mixed opinions, but I can’t help but personally like the Celtics court – and I’ll certainly like it more if we are successful on it.
As well as this being the debut of the new-look court, and their debut in the tournament, there is also another first for this game. The Celtics will debut their City Edition Jerseys in their clash with the Nets, and much like the new-look court, I have taken a liking to these new jerseys.
The November 8 night clash with the Philadelphia 76ers saw the much-anticipated return of fan-favorite Derrick White, escalating the expectations of securing a win in the process. Although White had a solid, well-rounded performance, his shooting efficiency was subpar by his standards and his 19 points weren’t enough to secure the much-desired victory.
White vs. 76ers: 19 points, four rebounds, five assists, two steals, one block, 6-18 from the field (33.3%), and 3-11 from beyond the arc (27.3%)
The Celtics backcourt duo is still, in my opinion, the best defensive backcourt in the league, and White has certainly cemented himself as one of the untouchables in this Celtics roster. Although the scoring burden doesn’t weigh as heavily on the shoulders of White or Jrue Holiday compared to the other stars in the starting five, when others are struggling to score, their offensive contributions become even more crucial – being made more evident in games like this.
In the victory over the Brooklyn Nets a week ago, Jayson Tatum put on a scoring performance that we have come to expect from him, but couldn’t mirror the shooting efficiency he had against the Philadelphia 76ers. With the standard being so high for Tatum, these kinds of quiet performances can be particularly glaring, especially when the game ends in a loss.
Tatum vs. Nets: 32 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, 10-20 from the field (50%), and 6-10 from beyond the arc (60%)
Tatum vs. 76ers: 16 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, three steals, 6-14 from the field (42.9%), and 2-6 from beyond the arc (33.3%)
Both of these stat lines exhibit noteworthy highlights, showcasing an efficient, high-scoring night against the Nets, as well as a well-rounded, low-scoring night against the Sixers. If the Celtics are going to start their In-Season Tournament campaign with a win, the efficiency from the previous Nets encounter will need to be repeated from Tatum.
Although the Celtics didn’t exhibit the best performance in their most recent game against their bitter rivals, the 76ers, there was definitely one notable positive to take away from that game. Celtics summer arrival, Kristaps Porzingis, had an exceptional scoring night as he ended the game with 29 points, but this still wasn’t enough to secure the win.
Porzingis has made himself more than comfortable here in Beantown and his performances so far have been a shining light on how good of an addition he was. With Nic Claxton remaining unavailable, this is the chance for the big man to put on another stellar showcase of his talents. If Porzingis starts in this clash with the Nets, then I’m anticipating a massive game for Porzingis
Boston Celtics Predicted Lineup.
PG: Derrick White
SG: Jrue Holiday
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Kristaps Porzingis
The Boston Celtics hope to get back to winning ways following back-to-back losses in the regular season. I expect them to go with the starting five that we are all becoming familiar with in hopes of starting their In-Season Tournament campaign on the right foot.
Can the Brooklyn Nets get off to a 2-0 start to the In-Season Tournament?
The Brooklyn Nets tipped off their In-Season Tournament campaign with a tightly-contested victory over the Chicago Bulls. They have looked strong throughout their last few games, even with their extensive injury list, but will the Celtics end up being too big of a hurdle? Well, with the Celtics on a two-game losing streak, the Nets will surely be feeling like they can secure a win in this one, making it a 2-0 start to their campaign, regardless of their injury-plagued roster.
So far this season Cam Thomas has been the Nets breakout star and is beginning to look like a likely candidate for the Most Improved Player award. Unfortunately though for Nets fans, Thomas has picked up a left ankle injury which will be reevaluated in two weeks’ time, and will therefore miss out on their second In-Season Tournament game on Friday night.
I’m sure all Brooklyn fans will be praying that this injury doesn’t slow down what has been nothing short of an incredible start to the season. Even though it is only a small sample size of 8 games played, Thomas has shown the NBA world that he means business this season.
Cam Thomas 2022-23: 10.6 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.4 SPG, and 0.1 BPG
Cam Thomas 2023-24: 26.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.9 SPG, and 0.6 BPG
My guess is that the absence of Thomas will give Lonnie Walker IV a chance to continue his momentum from his excellent performance against the LA Clippers, in which he scored an impressive 21 points off the bench. So far this season Walker has been looking like a reliable option for the Nets, especially with the current temporary absence of Thomas. I expect him to get the start in this matchup and that is purely based on merit, but how will he perform against an All-Defensive backcourt duo?
I anticipate the remaining three positions to be filled by the same players who have recently occupied those roles. The question that looms large is whether this roster can sustain the high level of performance they have been delivering, or will the strains caused by injuries begin to reveal potential vulnerabilities? Here is how I expect the Nets to line up in light of these issues.
Brooklyn Nets Predicted Lineups
PG: Spencer Dinwiddie
SG: Lonnie Walker IV
SF: Mikal Bridges
PF: Royce O’Neale
C: Dorian Finney-Smith
With an injury-plagued locker room, but some promising performances and wins lately, the Nets will be feeling mixed emotions going into this one. Can they clinch the win and go 2-0 to start their In-season Tournament run without Thomas and Claxton? Or will the Celtics prove to be too much on this occasion?
Boston Celtics: Neemias Queta – OUT – Right foot injury management
Brooklyn Nets: Nic Claxton – OUT – Left ankle sprain
Brooklyn Nets: Cam Thomas – OUT – Left ankle sprain
Brooklyn Nets: Cameron Johnson – QUESTIONABLE – Left calf strain
Brooklyn Nets: Ben Simmons – QUESTIONABLE – Left hip pain
Boston Celtics 120, Brooklyn Nets 107