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Nets wrap up road trip in Boston vs. Celtics

Oklahoma City Thunder v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Party keeps on keeping on. The Brooklyn Nets hit the road on Monday for a rematch against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and used a third quarter run to propel themselves to a much needed win on Monday night. It was the team’s third straight W and they currently find themselves atop the Eastern Conference standings.

The opponent tonight will be the Boston Celtics. First year head coach Ime Udoka has had a lot on his plate, but he’s doing the best he can with what he’s got. The C’s helped their cause with a win against the Houston Rockets at home on Monday night. They’ve won three straight games.

Where to follow the game

YES Network for the locals. ESPN (Hi, Monica McNutt!) for out-of-towners. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30.

Injuries

Bruce Brown, Joe Harris, and Nicolas Claxton are out. No news on Kyrie Irving.

Josh Richardson missed Monday’s game with a non-COVID illness. He’s listed as questionable for tonight. Jaylen Brown is questionable as he recently returned from a hamstring injury.

The game

I had planned to do something long on Enes Kanter, but I’ll pass. Long story short, don’t use Black people as cudgels in whatever beef you got, don’t front as if your political stances are the reasons why you don’t get as much as you want, don’t be a herb, etc. And for anyone else who tries, refer to the previous sentence whenever you have the itch to make a fool of yourself. That said, don’t be surprised to hear Kanter comment on Nets ownership’s connection to the People’s Republic.

UPDATE...

If he actually does play, Kanter will have his hands full with LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge had his usual awesome game, except with a twist. He started the second half instead of Blake Griffin and was part of the finishing five. Griffin has been struggling lately and hasn’t made a three pointer since November 7th. The coaching staff still has confidence in the big guy, and as he hopes to work his way out of it, he’ll hope to contribute on the boards and in making hustle plays.

The Nets trio of Aldridge, Griffin, and Paul Millsap will have to deal with Robert Williams. Williams was one of Boston’s best players in the playoff series last year and is reacclimating himself to game action after dealing with knee tendinopathy. Williams is one of the better shot blockers in the league and can wreak havoc on the inside.

Let’s hear from the man of the hour!

“I got in and knew the game-plan and knew what we had to do. I got in. I got great looks and got open looks, so I feel like those are really good for me coming in right away, getting open looks and I made most of them. When James [Harden] or KD kicks it to me, you got to knock it down when you’re wide open. A great building block to me.”

Cam Thomas had his best NBA game on Monday night as he scored eight of his 11 points in the third quarter as he and the Nets went on the comeback trail. It feels like Thomas has earned a permanent spot in the rotation and his scoring punch could help unlock a few things for the Nets as they go on their world tour. You can never have enough scoring on a team and having a young guard like Thomas that provides a change of pace in the ways that he does can win the Nets their fair share of games.

Marcus Smart will tangle with James Harden tonight. Harden had his lowest single game usage rate of the season on Monday as he played the background while his teammates did their thing. He’s continued to get himself in gear as the early season woes are becoming more of a distant memory. He’s still one of the best playmakers in the sport and now that his shot and health are almost there, will make for a tough challenge for Smart and the Celtics.

Player to watch: Jayson Tatum

After a particularly ugly start, the young star (amazingly, he’s still only 23 years old) is back on the good foot. Over the last four games, Tatum is averaging 33.5 points and 8.5 rebounds a night on a .500/.381/.897 shooting split. As the team’s leading scoring option, a lot falls on his shoulders and now that he’s playing better, Boston is back to looking like a solid playoff team.

Kevin Durant came back on Monday after getting a few days off and scored a game high 27 points. He’ll be making some history tonight as he is two points away from passing Allen Iverson for 25th place on the all time NBA scoring list. Durant has done everything you can ask for this season and even with all of his great scoring, his playmaking and help defense have helped the Nets to the best record in the East. A good win before the holidays and two days off before an elite matchup on Saturday night would be a wonderful development for the Nets.

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More reading: Celtics Blog