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Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics preview: Nets look to go 2-0 in NBA Cup play

It’s Game 2 of the Nets NBA Cup play for the Nets, Game 1 for Celtics. A new court and City Edition uniforms to critique

Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Well, I’ll be. The Brooklyn Nets had a tough matchup on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, and it got tougher as the game went on.

The opponent tonight is looking to bounce back after a somewhat difficult week. The Boston Celtics tried to pull off a late game miracle on the road, but the Philadelphia 76ers were too much to handle as they held on to beat the C’s.

Where to follow the game

YES Network and ESPN on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 p.m. ET. Ian Eagle and Sarah Kustok have YES call, Ryan Ruocco and Richard Jefferson are on ESPN. YES!


Cam Thomas left Wednesday’s game with a left ankle sprain, and on Thursday it was announced that he will be out at least two weeks. Nic Claxton is still out with a high ankle sprain as is Ben Simmons with left hip soreness after missing the Clippers game due to that injury. On the other side of the ledger, Cam Johnson is listed is available after missing seven games with a left calf strain. CJ hasn’t played since Opening Night vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers. He said he might have some minute restrictions depending on how things go.

There was some good news for the Nets beyond the return of Cam Johnson. Claxton was looking good when beat writers, including our Lucas Kaplan, watched him practice.

Neemias Queta is out with a right foot injury. Al Horford is also out, right knee injury management.

The game

Boston won the first meeting last weekend.

Cup game! This is Boston’s first game in the In Season Tournament and we’ll get to see what their special court looks like live and in color.

It’s fun!

Having Johnson back would do wonders for the Nets. For starters, it gives them a little more size to work with on the wings. Also, they have a terrific three point shooter back in the swing of things and that will create more space for his teammates. When you haven’t played in a few weeks, the first day out will be rough so don’t fret if he gets off to a slow start. It’s a process to get back to where you were and Johnson’s return is a welcome one for a banged up Nets squad.

What do the Nets do now that Thomas will be out for a while? The early bet is Mikal Bridges will have way more responsibilities on his shoulders and Lonnie Walker IV, the Nets early season revelation, will get more minutes no doubt as well. Bridges had a rough game on Wednesday, but he did grab eight rebounds and hand out seven assists. My main man Lucas Kaplan went long on Bridges’ season thus far, and you should watch it!

Stars always have to do more when key members of the rotation are out, so look for Mikal to make an impact tonight.

The Nets will need to figure out how to deal with Kristaps Porzingis. KP messed them up to the tune of 22 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks last time out. Without Claxton, the Nets don’t have the size to really contest elite bigs like Porzingis, but the team will again try to work around it. That starts with the excellent play of Dorian Finney-Smith, who’s yet another revelation in the first portion of the season. DFS has given the Nets toughness and timely three pointers.

With Ben Simmons out, we’ll see who gets the Jayson Tatum assignment. JT has been hell on wheels to start the season and torched the Nets to the tune of 32 points and 11 rebounds last week. When he’s got it going, watch out...

For superstars like him, you rarely shut them all the way down.

Player to watch: Jaylen Brown

When you’re a team like Boston, the goal of the regular season is to figure things out, stay healthy, and address certain weaknesses before the grind of the playoffs. For Jaylen Brown, that means being better when he’s handling the ball. Brown spent all summer being fussed at for not having a good left handed dribble, and that’s something he’ll need to fix if he wants to get Boston its first title since 2008. As Robbie Hodin noted at Celtics Blog:

“Jaylen Brown can be a creator, but on this team he really doesn’t have to be. He’s less effective as a half court ball-handling maestro than he is as a downhill attacking freight train, and he needs to realize that. The moments where he’s at his best are when defenders are backing up in transition or semi transition and Jaylen is able to come at them with a head of steam and space to operate. He’s leading the NBA in transition possessions per game, and those possessions are worth a respectable 1.14 points.”

Every great player needs to make that final step to superstardom, and if Brown does this, who knows the heights he can reach.

With no Thomas, Spencer Dinwiddie will have more scoring duties on his plate. He didn’t have the strongest game, but finished strong and that’s what matters most. He doesn’t lack for confidence and that’s half the battle right there. The other half is breaking defenders down off the dribble and getting to the basket!

From the Vault

We’re celebrating some all time great albums today! On November 9, 1993, A Tribe Called Quest released the flawless, unbeatable Midnight Marauders!

Not to be outdone, the Wu-Tang Clan dropped Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers) on the same day!

And last but not least, happy birthday Scarface!

More reading: Celtics Blog, SB Nation NBA, Nets Republic, Hardwood Houdini