Brooklyn looks to beat Boston again

Jared Wickerham

Four straight. The Grizzlies came into Brooklyn on Wednesday night, and while it got closer than it should have in the fourth, Brooklyn came out with the victory. At 29-28, the Nets are finally above .500 and are one game behind Washington for the fifth seed.

Waiting for the Nets will be the slumping Boston Celtics. After a decent start to the year, Boston has turned in the performance that was expected of them & are focused on draft position. They're also coming off a bad lossat home to Golden State on Wednesday night.

This is the third meeting of the season between the two teams. The Nets are 2-0 against Boston this year, including Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett's emotional return game on January 26.

The season so far

What's been happening with these teams? Let's check the stats:

Metric

Brooklyn

Boston

Record

30-29 20-41

Pace

94.07 96.07

Offensive Efficiency

103.1 98.6

Defensive Efficiency

104.2 103.6

Offensive Rebounding percentage

22.1 26.9

Turnover rate

15.4 16

Assist rate

16.7 15.8

Rebound rate

47.4 50.1

Free throw rate

31.4 25.3

Effective Field Goal percentage

50.3 47.3

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

50.4 49.5

Once again, Garnett won't be in the lineup. Garnett has been experiencing back spasms and will miss his third consecutive game. Apparently this injury isn't all that serious, but it's never good to see a key player miss an important stretch of games.

The good vibes continued for Deron Williams in the second half. He had 16 points & seven assists to only one turnover against one of the league's better defenses. The Williams-Rajon Rondo matchup is a very intriguing one to watch. The first time they met up, both players were just returning from injury (and coming off the bench in Williams' case). Deron only shot 3-8, but should be much more successful this time around.

On the injury front for Boston, Avery Bradley is still out. Bradley has been dealing with a sprained right ankle and is expected to miss a few more weeks, if not the remainder of the season. Also missing in action will be ex Net Gerald Wallace as he's gone for the year after undergoing surgeries on his left knee and ankle.

There were plenty of trade rumors surrounding Rajon Rondo near the deadline, but he's still in Boston for the time being. The adjustment to a new roster & shaking off the rust after coming back from a serious injury have slowed him down compared to previous season, but he's still one of the finer PGs in the league when at full strength. Even at full strength, he had a turnover problem & this season has been no exception. He's coughed it up close to 20 percent of the time, good for third most on the team.

Player to watch: Kris Humphries

With all the stuff that occurred at the end of his stint with the Nets, it felt as if we almost forgot that he can be a solid contributor. In Boston, he's back to showing what made him so useful in the 2010-2011 season. He's only averaging 19.5 minutes a night but still picks up seven points and about six rebounds on a True Shooting percentage of 54.7 (second highest of his career). I always felt Humphries was a better defender than he was given credit for, & Boston hasn't slipped on that end when he's been on the court.

Hump has always been super active on the glass, & with Garnett missing from an already poor rebounding team, Kris should have a lot of success. When he gets extended playing time, he's proven himself to be one of the league's best on the glass (see 2010-2011 & 2011-2012). The Brooklyn frontcourt of Mason Plumlee, Andray Blatche & friends will have a tough time dealing with Humphries & Brandon Bass. If there's one saving grace for the Nets as of late, it's been their ability to force teams into committing turnovers. And it just so happens the Celtics have the fourth highest turnover rate in the league.

From the Vault

Tip on back to 2008 and watch Paul Pierce & LeBron James go head-to-head in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.


More reading: CelticsBlog

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