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Celtics bring their winning streak to Brooklyn

New York Knicks v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

That was unfortunate. Facing a Utah Jazz team that didn’t have Rudy Gobert, the Brooklyn Nets were unable to capitalize and wound up losing the final game of their five-game road trip by eight points. More concerning for Brooklyn was they allowed the league’s third worst offense to score a season high 114 points. There’s a lot to work on.

The opponent tonight will be the Boston Celtics. If not for those dudes in Oakland, we’d be talking about the Cs as being the best team in the NBA. They were able to push their winning streak to 12 with an impressive victory over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday afternoon.


D’Angelo Russell got hurt late in Saturday’s game and was officially diagnosed with a left knee contusion (He hurt his right knee earlier this year). It’s likely that he will be out of action for a while. The Nets list him day-to-day. Jarrett Allen has been hampered by a foot injury for the past week, but has been upgraded to “questionable,” so he might be returning tonight. Spencer Dinwiddie missed Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury, but will probably play and start tonight. Tyler Zeller missed Saturday’s game due to an illness and his status for tonight is unknown.

Gordon Hayward is recovering after suffering a knee injury on Opening Night and is expected to be out for the full season. Of course, if the Celtics keep going at this pace, the season could extend into the spring. Kyrie Irving caught an inadvertent elbow to the face on Friday night and was diagnosed with a minor (relatively speaking, of course) facial fracture. He’s listed as questionable.

The game

I wouldn’t blame the Celtics players if they were looking ahead to their next game. On Thursday, they’ve got a showdown against the Golden State Warriors on TNT. Knowing how well-prepared Brad Stevens has the players, they probably won’t get caught slipping.

The Nets are going to need a lot from Isaiah Whitehead. With Russell out, he’ll get an extended run backing up Dinwiddie. Whitehead has been on the G League shuttle so far, and having a chance to stay with the big club for the time being will be beneficial for his development. The Nets are hoping Kyrie and his mask will sit this one out so he can be rested for Thursday night. If that does happen, Terry Rozier and our old friend Shane Larkin will handle the bulk of PG duties for Boston.

Having Trevor Booker back will help on the boards. The Nets have been the seventh worst rebounding team in the league this year while Boston has been the second-best. With Allen not at 100 percent and Zeller ill, the Nets are still undersized and will need big minutes from Booker and Timofey Mozgov.

Every team needs a guy like Marcus Smart. He’s tough, gives you consistent energy every night, and will probably put hands on you if you try to fight him. He’ll probably get matched up with Allen Crabbe. With Russell out, the Nets will need a lot more from Crabbe. He’s their best shooter and as the Nets run their offense, it should free him up and get him quality looks from three-point range.

Player to watch: Jayson Tatum

If it weren’t for Ben Simmons, Tatum would be the most talked about rookie in the league. He’s sixth among rookies in points and rebounds while putting up a 48.9/47.6/82.7 shooting split. Tatum got thrown into the starting lineup after Hayward’s injury and has done a lot better than expected. I don’t think anybody expected Tatum to contribute so much this early, but it’s made life without Gordon a little less painful for Boston. Imagine how they’ll look when everyone’s back and clicking on all cylinders.

Tatum will face a good challenge in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. RHJ has been one of the Nets best players and continues to excel with his jump shot. That’s always been the biggest red flag in his game, and if he’s able to consistently hit those 15-foot jumpers, it’ll keep him on the court and make him more versatile.

From the Vault

Janet Jackson will be performing at the Barclays tomorrow, and while my answer changes depending on which day you catch me, this is my current pick for my favorite Janet track.

More reading: Celtics Blog