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Watch Live: Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics, 7:30 PM EST on TNT

The Brooklyn Nets take on the first place Boston Celtics without their top player, Kevin Durant.

New Orleans Pelicans v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets have a chance to inch closer to first place in the Eastern Conference as they welcome the Boston Celtics to town.

Bad news for the Nets, they won’t have Kevin Durant in this one. Good news for Brooklyn, though, is that the Celtics will be without Jaylen Brown and Al Horford.

The Bucks are also going to be shorthanded in their matchup against the Heat. So a win and a Bucks loss can help given them a little breathing room....but that’s another story.

We’ll get our first chance to see the Durant-less Nets on Thursday night. Let’s, um, hope for the best?

WHO: Brooklyn Nets (27-13) vs. Boston Celtics (30-12)

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. est

WHERE: TNT (national), WFAN-FM (radio)

Game preview.

Say hello to one of the MVP frontrunners. Tatum is fourth in the NBA in scoring at a shade under 31 points a game on .471/.358/.871 shooting in 36 minutes a night. Tatum is able to do everything on the court you can ask for and as the superstar of the team, he has them in great position to bring the gold back to Boston. He had 29 points and 11 rebounds the first meeting against Brooklyn, but turned it over a career high nine times that night. It was uncharacteristic for a player and team that takes tremendous care of the basketball (Boston has the fourth lowest turnover rate in the league). Tatum will have his adjustments and it will be up to the Nets defense to force him into tough spots.

With Durant out, all eyes turn to Ben Simmons. Simmons missed the first meeting against the Celtics due to a calf strain. He’s helped the Nets defense become one of the league’s very best as he’s fit in well for the most part on that end. Without Durant, a lot more will be asked of him on the offensive end.

For more on the Celtics, check out Celtics Blog.