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NBA

Brooklyn Nets to play Boston Celtics in first playoff round: what to know

The Brooklyn Nets won their play-in game against the Cleveland Cavaliers to clinch the 7th seed and will play the No. 2 Celtics in the playoffs.

Jennifer Bubel
Update:

The Nets are playoff-bound and will play the No. 2 team in the East, the Boston Celtics in the first round, a rematch of last year’s first round playoff series. This time, though, it’s the Celtics who will have the home court advantage.

In their play-in 115-108 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brooklyn’s stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were an unstoppable duo with a combined 59 points and 23 assists.

Though the Celtics are No. 2 and the Nets are No. 7, they really are not too different as far as talent. With a healthy Durant and an active Irving, the Nets’ chances at winning the East have increased greatly. Boston beat Brooklyn 3-1 in the regular season series, but that was when the Nets were both Irving-less and Durant-less.

This will be Boston’s eighth consecutive playoff run, but they haven’t made it to the finals since the 2009-2010 season. This season, the Celtics were off to a slow start, but slowly built their way up, finishing strong in the Eastern Conference. The team is led by forward Jayson Tatum, who had a regular season high of 54 points against the Nets in March.

What the Nets really need to be careful of in this matchup is the Celtics’ offense. Despite their slow start, Boston slowly transformed into a defensive force to be reckoned with, but their offense with Tatum and Jaylen Brown together, was also unstoppable. By the beginning of April, the two had gone on a combined 50-point scoring binge in eight games.

The Nets are going to have their work cut out for them on defense. If they simply rely on outscoring the Celtics, who also have a powerful offense, they could be in trouble. Durant and Irving are without a doubt, able to put points on the board, but will that be enough?

Perhaps if the Boston Celtics were not without center Robert Williams, the answer would look different. But how serious is the loss of Williams for the Celtics? They have a lot of depth on their roster with Derrick White, Grant Williams, and Payton Pritchard. Even still, they’ll likely be relying on big man Tatum to do the grunt of the work to outscore Durant and Irving.

These two teams promise to provide one of the most exciting matchups to start off the NBA playoffs. They will face each other on Sunday, April 17 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

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