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Nets expect full squad, full crowd for Game 1 against Boston Celtics

Brooklyn Nets v Milwaukee Bucks

Things are trending the right way in Brooklyn. The 2021 squad is on the cusp of embarking on the most promising playoff run in franchise history with a roster that has many picking the Nets as the title favorite.

Those expectations aren’t affecting this veteran group; from the top-down — the coaching staff, the stars, the role players — Brooklyn is focused on taking things day-by-day, locked in on the task at hand: taking down the Boston Celtics. Even Joe Tsai showed major respect to Brooklyn’s first-round opponent ... while warning that the New England club is up to no good!

With 139 playoff games under his belt, no player is better suited to preparing for the most important portion of the season than Nets star Kevin Durant, who detailed his approach during Friday’s practice.

“You wanna win every game you play and wanna play well,” explained Durant, who has two rings and wants more. “I’ve learned that if I put too much emphasis on wanting to win and wanting to play well, I end up overthinking. When I just approach it as, ‘yo, it’s just basketball’ and I’ve been doing this my whole life and I’m natural at it, I guess that extra pressure of feeling like we have to win a game, I don’t think about it too much when I look at it that way. I just try and take the simple approach to doing my job and that’ll relieve some that pressure, I guess, from the outside — the expectations.”

It also helps that KD is not alone in his experience. The Nets roster has played 577 games in the post-season.

The Nets enter Saturday’s Game 1 with a clean bill of health — or at least, the cleanest bill of health since the very start of the season. Brooklyn sent out their injury report on Friday evening and the only two players listed were Spencer Dinwiddie, “out” with the partial ACL tear and Landry Shamet as “probable” with a left ankle sprain.

This, of course, confirms that Joe Harris will indeed be available for Saturday’s game. Harris missed the last three games of the regular season as well as the first day of practice with a left gluteal strain. As of now, however, the 29-year-old is fully healthy and back in the fold.

“He should be a full go,” said Nash. “It’s not like he’s had a ton of time out where conditioning should be a major issue. So he’s more or less ready to go.”

The biggest surprise on the injury report was that third-string point guard Chris Chiozza was nowhere to be found. Chiozza has been out since April 14 with a fractured right hand and all signs point to him being available for the postseason should his number get called. We probably should’ve seen it coming. Just this week, he fired off a hilarious tweet from his personal account indicating that his time on the injury reserve was over.

As for the “Big Three,” Nash indicated that it’s all systems go. In spite of all the health concerns and issues this season, Brooklyn does not plan to impose any minutes restrictions on its stars to kickstart the playoffs.

“James is healthy,” said Nash. “There’s no restriction on him. We got a couple of days of practice where we actually went live.”

Perhaps the biggest return of all will be Nets fans themselves. Sean Marks appeared on YES Networks’ “The Michael Kay Show” to discuss a variety of Nets topics, and one of the things he was asked about was occupancy for Game 1 against the Celtics.

“I just got some great news today that it’s going to be a sellout. They’re going to release a couple more tickets this afternoon or tonight,” said Marks to Michael Kay.

“That fact that we’re going to get at max capacity that’s allowed, so there will be over 13,000 people there. That’s the thing we’ve really missed throughout the pandemic and just this crazy season, we’ve had to pivot here, there, and everywhere. I know that the borough and our fanbase are looking forward to this part seeing this live and person on the court. To hear the energy that the Barclays will have is exciting.”

I’m telling you. Things are looking up for the Brooklyn Nets. Just in time, too.