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Nets play host to the Celtics

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NBA: Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

That works. The Brooklyn Nets took a trip to MSG to play the New York Knicks last night. Thanks to a great second half, Brooklyn beat their crosstown neighbors by double digits last night. This is a pretty unique back-to-back. While they were officially on the road, crossing from one borough to the next to play is very convenient and not as taxing on the body.

The opponent tonight will be the Boston Celtics. Even though they didn’t do anything at the trade deadline (again), Boston has had a fantastic season and are within striking of the Cavs for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. They played the Wolves at home on Wednesday and won 117-104. After this one wraps up, they’re heading to Philly to play the 76ers next.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WCBS 880 AM on the radio. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

Joe Harris and Sean Kilpatrick are out.

Isaiah Thomas will miss this game as he’s being held out due to a bone bruise in his right knee.

The game

The C’s won the first game back in October and the second one in November.

Al Horford has done the job in his debut season with Boston. He's continued to expand his shooting range and has been averaging 14 points and close to seven rebounds a night, but that's not the most impressive part of his game. Big Al is averaging a career high five assists a game and has helped the C's offense improve their offensive efficiency by five points from last year. You combine that with his defense and rim protection, and you have the player who might get them deep into the playoffs. He’ll get to be matched up with Brook Lopez tonight. Lopez has continued to put together a solid campaign and will face a good test in Horford. If he can force Big Al to the bench with early foul trouble, he’ll have a chance to feast on Jonas Jerebko and Kelly Olynyk.

Caris Levert will get a chance to match up with one of the more underappreciated small forwards in the game. With Boston always looking for a superstar small forward to push them over the top, we sometimes forget that Jae Crowder is actually pretty damn solid. He plays hard every night, plays tough defense, and is close to a 40 percent shooter from three point range. He’s the prototypical 3 and D wing and is someone you’d love to have on your roster.

Player to watch: Avery Bradley

If Boston wants to get out of the East, they're going to need AB at top form. He does a good job on offense, but defense is where he's most valuable. WJSY of Celtics Blog explains just how important Bradley is here:

Having Bradley healthy again makes such a huge difference. We saw it in those two big wins against Golden State and Cleveland where he singlehandedly shut down Kyrie Irving and Steph Curry in the fourth quarter. In a league dominated by scoring point guards, being able to put Bradley on them in crunch time is crucial. Couple that with the defensive versatility of Smart and Crowder to cover guys bigger than them and you’ve got a blueprint on how to beat some of the best teams in the NBA.

Bradley will spend time guarding Jeremy Lin tonight. The further away he gets from his injuries, the more he’s able to play. He didn’t shoot well yesterday, but that didn’t matter as he tallied eight assists against only one turnover. Having him on the court makes life easier for his teammates on offense and now that we’re heading into the final stretch of the season, we’ll get a real opportunity to see how certain players mesh with Lin. We’ve still got plenty to keep an eye on in Brooklyn.

From the Vault

Villanova is attempting to win their second straight National Championship in this year's Tournament. Al Horford's Florida Gators were able to pull the feat off in 2007.

More reading: Celtics Blog