The 51-31 Boston Celtics will take on the 44-38 Brooklyn Nets for the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs.
Brooklyn vs. Boston 🍿
For the second straight year, the Nets will face the Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs. pic.twitter.com/cnUtImRwHE
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 13, 2022
After defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first play-in game, the Nets are looking strong.
They have won their last five games, but can they outlast an impressive Celtics team?
Boston went 28-7 in its final 35 games of the season.
It is a fight between two of the superpowers in the Eastern Conference.
The series puts the Brooklyn stars in their 30s — who have won titles — against the ringless Boston stars in their 20s.
Boston finished with the second seed, as the top teams in the Eastern Conference jockeyed for position.
The Milwaukee Bucks sat the majority of their players to get themselves a good chance at the No. 3 seed.
They succeeded and they get the Chicago Bulls — who have the 11th-best point differential in the East (-0.4) this season.
Meanwhile, the Celtics victory on the last day of the season pushed the Philadelphia 76ers to the No. 4 seed, and they will be without Matisse Thybulle for road games in Toronto.
So, where do we stand with Boston and Brooklyn, and who will win the series?
Let us start by breaking down the rosters.
The Nets starters are as follows:
Brooklyn is made up of Durant and Irving plus a supporting cast.
The surprising third scorer in the play-in game was Brown, who attempted a team-high 19 shots.
Brown went for 18 points to complement Irving’s 34 and Durant’s 25.
With Cleveland trying to force the ball out of the hands of Durant and Irving, the two superstars each had at least 11 assists.
Meanwhile, the Celtics starters are as follows:
With Tatum and Brown, the Robert Williams-less Celtics have gone with the two big men approach of Horford and Theis.
Boston is a defensively-minded team that has improved on both sides of the court as the season has progressed.
Behind Defensive Player of the Year candidate Smart, Boston will try to slow down Durant and Irving.
They combined for 22 points in the play-in game, with 3-for-10 shooting from 3-point.
The Nets starters went 6-for-18 from distance, including an 0-for-4 from Curry.
As the Celtics wait for the return of Robert Williams III, Boston will hope to get a good start against Brooklyn.
So, when can Boston expect to get back its big man?
Are Reinforcements Coming For Both Teams?
Celtics fans can rejoice, as Williams reportedly will be back soon, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
— Tolga Arbuz (@semioticus) April 13, 2022
Williams — Basketball-Reference’s defensive rating leader — will be an important asset for the Celtics.
He will help the Celtics prevent the Nets from being able to capitalize near the hoop.
Another big question mark in this series is: will Ben Simmons play?
He is expected to return by Game 4, according to Brian Windhorst.
If so, that could turn the series as well.
Who Will Win?
With the potential return of both players, the Celtics should be the favorite to win the series.
My prediction: Celtics in 7.