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Nets host Celtics in snowy Brooklyn

Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Hey, 2018 isn’t all that bad (outside of all that snow though). For the Brooklyn Nets, the new year has been nothing but positive. They’re 2-0 this year after winning a close one against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

And in case you missed it, they’re improving. Over the past two weeks, eight games, they are 4-4 and as Tim Capstraw has pointed out, third in the NBA in 3-point shooting over that stretch at 40.2 percent and sixth in defensive rating at 104.1.

The opponent tonight will be the Boston Celtics. The new look C's have been rolling along and will be one of the favorites to make it out of the Eastern Conference playoffs. While the Nets have had three days off, this is the second night of a back-to-back for the Celtics . They beat the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night and pushed their winning streak to five games. They've also won six out of their last seven games.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WCBS 880 AM on radio. Tip off after 6 PM.


Caris Levert didn’t play on Wednesday night due to a groin injury. He’s hoping to play in this one but he’s listed as doubtful as of Friday night. DeMarre Carroll has been playing through a rib injury recently and is questionable. Isaiah Whitehead remains on assignment with Long Island where he’s been nursing knee soreness.

Marcus Morris sat out yesterday's game but hopes to play tonight.

The game

Boston won the first game in October and the second one on New Year's Eve.

We here at Netsdaily are big fans of people getting dunked on, so naturally...

It's been that kind of year for Jayson Tatum. He's exceeded all expectations and has a pretty good chance to win Rookie of the Year. He's fifth among rookies in scoring and sixth in rebounding while posting a 50.1/45.3/82.6 shooting split. He’s been a league leader in three-point shooting since the beginning of the season. Rondae Hollis Jefferson will be assigned to the rook tonight. RHJ has continued to excel this year and he's the perfect fit for what Kenny Atkinson is hoping to accomplish in Brooklyn.

Reining in Kyrie Irving will be a tough task for Spencer Dinwiddie. Kyrie continues to be excellent and his crafty finishes at the rim are one of the most enjoyable things to watch in basketball. One thing we can say about Dinwiddie is he's never scared of the big moment. For good or for ill, he's always ready to take the shots for Brooklyn late in close games. That's a great quality to have, and when D'Angelo Russell returns, the Nets will have another player they can turn to for big shots.

Even though the Celtics are young, they're still a team on the second night of a back to back. The Nets should look to run even more than usual.

Player to watch: Al Horford

Horford will never be mistaken for a superstar, but he does a lot of things incredibly well. He's a solid second-third scoring option, is having a career year from three point range, and is one of the best passing bigs in the league. He also serves as Boston's defensive anchor and leads the best defensive unit in the league.

It's a process. Jahlil Okafor returned to action on Wednesday and played 11 minutes.

“Running it back in my mind, I thought I was in the correct spots most of the time. I thought I felt a little timid at certain points when I had the ball in my hands,” Okafor told Fred Kerber. “That’s just not playing in a while, not wanting to make any mistakes, make any turnovers. But as a whole I was able to do what I wanted to accomplish.”

As he gets more accustomed to Brooklyn, his minutes will rise. In the meantime, Tyler Zeller, Quincy Acy and Jarrett Allen will man the 4/5 positions. There have been some head-scratching moments from deep, but Acy has made 10 out of his last 18 three point attempts. While that isn't sustainable over the long term, his mini hot streak will ensure he keeps a spot in the rotation.

From the Vault

Paul Pierce will be having his jersey retired in February. Only problem is that Isaiah Thomas will be playing in that game and the C's will be doing a video tribute to him that night. Wouldn’t be the first time a star point guard took Pierce’s moment from him...

More reading: CelticsBlog