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Nets and Celtics begin a home-and-home set in Boston

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Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing doing. The Brooklyn Nets had a chance to win back-to-back games for the first time this season, but weren't able to seal the deal and lost to the Charlotte Hornets 116-111 Wednesday night in Charlotte. Brooklyn is 2-10 and things are only going to get more difficult if the losses keep piling up.

Waiting for the Nets will be the Boston Celtics. They had their three game winning streak snapped with a home loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night. At 6-5, the C's are slightly ahead of the Toronto Raptors for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Where to follow the game

YES Network (for those of you not subscribed to Comcast) on TV and WFAN 101.9 FM on the radio. Tip off is after 7:30.

Injuries

The Nets are fine.

The Celtics are clear of injuries.

The game

When the team is struggling and certain players aren't getting playing time, distractions tend to pop up. Sergey Karasev's dad Vasily says his son wants to be traded and get some more playing time. His option wasn't picked up at the beginning of November and he will be a free agent this summer. Karasev hasn't appeared in a game since November seventh in Milwaukee and the most he's played in an appearance this season is 2:21. For what it's worth, Karasev hasn't publicly said anything about this.

If you're a Nets fan that doesn't want to hear about the draft pick situation, avoiding the games this weekend might be in your best interests. As we all know, Boston owns Brooklyn's unprotected draft pick this season, and if the Nets continue to struggle, there's a very good chance the pick will be near the top of the Draft. Oh, and you might wanna avoid Twitter too.

Evan Turner, asked about whether players discuss draft picks, said it's not a big topic of conversation.

Turner said, "I don’t pay attention to draft picks, to tell you the truth, because guys still have to come and play. Obviously this draft is pretty crowded still but last year everybody blew smoke up the draft and you may be getting s--- disguised as steak, you know what I’m saying? So you really just focus on what you can control."

Another day, another solid performance from Thaddeus Young. Young led all scorers with 27 points and picked up eight rebounds along the way in Charlotte on Wednesday. He and Brook Lopez have been the team's two best players and they have to be excellent every night in order for the Nets to be competitive. Thomas Robinson is the best backup big man on the Nets, and he should see an increase in minutes as this season goes on.

Brooklyn's frontline is a strength, and the same could be said for Boston. They don't have a stand out player but they have a lot of depth and that will keep Lopez occupied. Jared Sullinger leads the big men in minutes and his ability to step out and hit three pointers will draw Lopez away from the basket. Sully has also been one of the best rebounders in the league this season, and if he can control the glass, the C's can control the pace of the game. Lopez had a bad finish in Charlotte and will be looking to make up for it tonight.

Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Isaiah Thomas will be important for Boston. He's the team's leading scorer at 20.8 points per game and is someone that can heat up at a moment's notice. Having Rondae Hollis-Jefferson guard him would make for an interesting matchup. RHJ is Brooklyn's best perimeter defender while IT is Boston's best perimeter scorer. It seems like a perfect fit for the Nets.

Player to watch: Marcus Smart

Smart has been the full time starter since last year and he's been doing a good enough job. He had an excellent game against Russell Westbrook and the Thunder on the 15th, but has shot 2-18 from the field since then with six turnovers. He's shooting 32.9 percent overall, and a hair under 25 percent from three point range. Boston's offense is a bit worse per 100 possessions when he's on the floor, but if he's able to get out of his shooting slump, those numbers should improve.

Smart is a solid defender and that can pose problems for the Nets point guard duo of Jarrett Jack and Shane Larkin. Coming into the year, a bunch of us viewed the PG position as the team's biggest weakness. That may still be true, but the duo has shot well over the past week and have kept the turnovers down. Brooklyn plays at the seventh slowest pace in the league while Boston is the fifth fastest. It'll be up to them to slow the game down and keep Lopez involved in the offense.

From the Vault

November 18th would have been Len Bias' 52nd birthday. Bias was a sensational player at the University of Maryland and was taken second in the 1986 Draft by the Boston Celtics (who had just won the Championship). Unfortunately, Bias never made it and passed away from a drug overdose. There's been so much written about him over the years and I'm going to share a few. Here's Bomani Jones writing in 2011 about what could've been if Celtics joined the Celtics:

Should you need a way to measure how good Bias could have been in the NBA, consider that the Celtics had the best frontline in NBA history in 1986. Larry Bird won his third consecutive MVP that season. Robert Parish was an All Star in 1986. Kevin Mchale, armed with a set of post moves that could be issued only by the Swiss army, was probably the best power forward in the league. On top of being a great post scorer, he made the All Defensive team in '86.

Yet the Celtics still took Bias. And they did so while Red Auerbach still had a golden touch with personnel, especially players he was sure would be stars.

Michael Wilbon in 1987 on the effects Bias' death had on how teams evaluate potential picks:

The people who own and run NBA teams apparently must feel the same way, considering the new battery of tests that clubs have put prospective first round draft choices through in recent weeks. One agent, who represents prominent NBA players, said Bias' death has prompted teams to start deep research into a player's background and personality. And that information could play a major role in Monday's draft.

And Dr. Lonise Bias speaking about her son's death in 2011:

Len, she said, "has truly in death changed people's lives, and in death is still bringing messages of hope. That's why I say he and my son Jay were seeds that went down into the ground to bring forth a multiplication of life. And it's not that you expect people to change, but you put that seed of hope in them, and through that nurturing and growing, it will bring forth fruit."

I don't wanna depress y'all any further, so let's head back to 1985 and watch Bias and Maryland take on David Robinson and Navy.

More reading: CelticsBlog