The Brooklyn Nets have held it together over their current 2-game win streak thanks in large part to Kyrie Irving, but without Kevin Durant (and Ben Simmons) in the lineup they will have a tough task ahead of them trying to beat the Celtics in Boston.
The Celtics are sitting atop the Eastern Conference, while the Nets try to climb their way closer to the top some 4.5 game behind them.
Boston is a 19-6 at home this season and already 2-0 against the Nets on the year. And without Kevin Durant, well, you know how difficult this game is going to be for the Nets.
But, there’s a reason these games aren’t played on paper, right?
WHO: Brooklyn nets (31-19) at Boston Celtics (36-15)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. est
WHERE: ESPN (national), YES Network (local tv and app), WFAN-FM (radio)
The Nets are going to need all hands on deck to slow down one of the MVP contenders. Jayson Tatum is fourth in the league in scoring this year at 31.1 points per game on .465/.350/.869 shooting splits. The C’s count on Tatum a lot and he’s averaging 37.5 minutes per game, second highest in the NBA. Tatum can get going from all three levels and his size makes him incredibly difficult to slow down. For as great as he’s been, he’s had a tough go of it against Brooklyn this season. Although Tatum scored 30 points on .526/.500/1.000 splits in the first meeting back in December, he had a career high nine turnovers along the way. In the January meeting, he cut the turnovers down to three, but wound up shooting .318/.200/1.000 that night. With a few days off, Tatum will be refreshed and ready to make something happen.
Without Durant and Simmons, who will get the Jayson Tatum assignment? That job will probably fall to Royce O’Neale. O’Neale has gotten the lead assignment against elite perimeter players and he figures to be first up on JT.
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