Eastern Conference behemoths the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets will clash for the third and final time this season on Friday. The Nets have won both previous encounters but the Celtics are the team in better form right now.
Fixture: Boston Celtics vs Brooklyn Nets | NBA Season 2020-21
Date & Time: Friday, April 23rd, 7:30 PM ET (Saturday, 5 AM IST)
Venue: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Boston Celtics Preview
The Boston Celtics have found their rhythm once again. They suffered a surprising loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday but bounced back to defeat the Phoenix Suns in convincing fashion last night. Brad Stevens' men have won nine of their last 11 games and currently sit just half a game behind the fourth-seeded New York Knicks.
Kemba Walker's 32-point effort on 11-of-17 shooting helped the Boston Celtics' cause immensely against Phoenix yesterday. Walker hasn't been too reliable for the Celtics this season but has showcased some form lately. He even had a 26-point outing against the Warriors last week.
With Jaylen Brown likely to miss out against the Brooklyn Nets with left shoulder bursitis, the onus will be on Marcus Smart to guard Kyrie Irving. Besides being an able defender, Smart is the Boston Celtics' best playmaker. He's had a good run in April as well, averaging 14.2 points, 6.1 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals through 10 games.
Key Player - Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum has been incredibly clutch for the Boston Celtics since returning from his long COVID-19 layoff. Despite struggling in the last two matchups, Tatum has still averaged 26.6 points, nine rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in April. He's scored a combined 51 points in two previous fixtures against the Brooklyn Nets this season and will be hoping to take his team across the finish line this time.
Boston Celtics Predicted Lineup
G Kemba Walker, G Marcus Smart, F Semi Ojeleye, F Jayson Tatum, C Tristan Thompson
Brooklyn Nets Preview
The injury-plagued Brooklyn Nets fell short to the Toronto Raptors in their last game. They've oscillated between a win and a loss for nearly two weeks now and have evenly split their last 10 games. The Nets are still the second seed in the East and will get a chance to regroup at home against the Boston Celtics.
The Brooklyn Nets could virtually be without half of their squad on Friday night. Kevin Durant is questionable due to a thigh contusion, while James Harden could miss the rest of the regular season. Jeff Green has been staring in Durant's absence but hasn't been too effective offensively, shooting at just 30.5% from the field.
Landry Shamet was a major disappointment for the Brooklyn Nets against the Raptors, but he's been in good touch lately. He had averaged 20.8 points on 50% shooting from downtown in the five games prior to the Toronto matchup. Two-way guard Bruce Brown has also significantly improved his production. He's averaged 12.6 points, nine rebounds and 1.6 steals through the last five games.
Key Player - Kyrie Irving
In the absence of other stars, Kyrie Irving has been tasked with forcing the issue for the Brooklyn Nets. Irving has averaged 25.8 points, eight assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 steals through the last five games. Irving has had two blockbuster performances against the Boston Celtics already. He's already scored a combined 77 points in two fixtures against them and will be hoping to add to that tally on Friday.
Brooklyn Nets Predicted Lineup
G Kyrie Irving, G Landry Shamet, F Joe Harris, F Jeff Green, C Blake Griffin
Celtics vs Nets Match Prediction
Even though both teams are suffering from key injuries, the Boston Celtics have a slight edge on paper. Jayson Tatum's form has been patchy in the last two games, but he'll be raring to go against the Brooklyn Nets' wonky interior defense. If the Celtics can replicate their defensive performance from last night, things will get much more difficult for Steve Nash's unit. Expect the Celtics to win this game.
Where to watch Celtics vs Nets?
National telecast of this matchup will be available on TNT. Local coverage of the same will be available on NBC Sports Boston and YES Network. You can also live stream the game via the NBA League Pass.