Nets host the Celtics before hitting the road

Let the good times roll. In a key game that has potential playoff implications, the Nets were able to defeat the Charlotte Bobcats at home on Wednesday evening. At 35-31, the Nets are within two games of Chicago for the fourth seed and 2.5 behind Toronto for the Atlantic Division lead.

The opponent for Brooklyn this Friday evening will be the Boston Celtics. The Celtics are solidly in the bottom of the league standings and are just biding their time until the Draft Lottery. On the bright side (for their fans at least), they did beat the Miami Heat for the second time this season.

This is the fourth and final meeting between these teams this season. The Nets lead the series 2-1.

The season so far

What's up? Let's check the numbers:

2013-2014

Brooklyn

Boston

Record

35-31 23-46

Pace

93.94 95.8

Offensive Efficiency

103.5 98.9

Defensive Efficiency

104 103.9

Offensive Rebounding percentage

21.6 27.6

Turnover rate

15.3 15.9

Assist rate

16.7 16

Rebound rate

47 50.3

Free throw rate

31.6 25

Effective Field Goal percentage

50.7 47.1

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

50.5 49.6

No Kevin Garnett, no problem. Garnett has been dealing with a bad back all month and the Nets have gone 8-2 in his absence. He's still out of action but he says he's improving.

The second half resurgence continued for Deron Williams on Wednesday. He scored 25 points and picked up eight assists (to only one turnover) as he keyed Brooklyn's offensive attack. Outside of the game against Washington where John Wall went off in the second half, Williams has been excellent since the break. He's averaging 17.5 points and 5.9 assists a game in 34 minutes. Most importantly, he's cut down on his turnovers since the break, averaging only 1.5 a night since the All Star Game. Managing possessions is gonna be crucial for Williams, especially if they draw Chicago in Round One.

On the injury front for Boston, we won't be seeing two former Nets. Gerald Wallace underwent knee surgery and Keith Bogans was excused for personal reasons.

Rajon Rondo is settling back into form. When he first came back, he was out of sync and struggled to adjust to his new teammates. However, he looks to be settling back into form. Rondo is averaging nine assists a game and is coming off a near triple-double against Miami. He's struggled with his shot, and prior to the game against Miami, Rondo went seven games without shooting at least 50 percent from the field.

The Jeff Green and Joe Johnson matchup figures to be intriguing. With Rondo out of action, Green was the person key to Boston's offense. He didn't really adjusted well to the increased usage and his 52.1 true shooting percentage is his lowest since the 2007-2008 season (Green's rookie year). Johnson has been having a great year from downtown. He's shooting 39.8 percent from three point range, the second best mark of his career. He's hit six three pointers in the two games Brooklyn has played this week. Green will look to use his length to harass Johnson on the perimeter and keep him off the three point line. If that happens, Johnson can take Green into the post where he can use his size advantage to work over Green.

Brooklyn's defense has excelled at forcing turnovers. They're second in the league in opponent's turnover rate, getting teams to cough it up 17 percent of the time. This doesn't bode well for Boston because they are fifth in turnover rate on offense as they turn the ball over about 16 percent of the time. In the last meeting, Brooklyn goaded Boston into 24 turnovers but weren't able to take full advantage of them.

Although Al Jefferson picked up 12 rebounds, the Nets big men shut him down. Going into the game, I thought Jefferson would have a big game, but the Nets front court held him to only 8-19 from the field with five turnovers and only three trips to the free throw line. Andray Blatche, Mason Plumlee and the rest of the Nets big guys have been killed on the glass, but the Nets have done well despite it. Old pal Kris Humphries figures to control the glass, but that may damage Brooklyn too much if they can continue to force turnovers at a high rate.

Player to watch: Avery Bradley

Injuries have derailed another one of his seasons. An ankle injury took Bradley out of action for a few weeks and prevented the Celtics from getting the chance to evaluate a Rondo-Bradley backcourt. With the Celtics trying to be relevant next season,they need to determine whether the duo is worth bringing back. He is coming off a tremendous game against the Heat, scoring 23 points and making a career high six three pointers. He's a decent three point shooter and that bodes well for him going forward.

Bradley will be matched up with Deron Williams on defense. We mentioned Bradley's three point shooting helping him going forward, but his defense figures to play a larger role in his future success. Bradley is already a solid defender, as he uses his speed, quickness and length to harass opponents into tough shots on the perimeter. He's also strong enough to hold his own when his man makes his way to the low post area. With Williams playing at a high level, if Boston wants to win, they're gonna need Bradley to slow Deron down. Williams and Bradley have played against each other twice (Bradley missed the January 26 game due to injury) and Deron has played well-great in each game.

From the Vault

Head on back to 1995 and go with Michael Jordan on the comeback trail.


More reading: Celtics Blog

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