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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets set for first round rematch

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Bianca Oppedisano
Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics plays defense. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano / Mass Media Staff

A lot has changed since the Boston Celtics met with the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the NBA playoffs last season. A season ago, the Celtics were given zero chance of beating the Nets in a seven-game series and it was proven as the Nets rolled over the Celtics in just five games. Now, just one season later, those same Nets with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are considered, in some eyes, to be underdogs going into this series against the Celtics, even without Robert Williams.
So, what has changed in the past year?
I think the biggest issue that the Nets have faced this season is that Irving was only able to play in 29 of 82 games due to the fact that the Barclays Center in Brooklyn wouldn’t let him play in home games due to his vaccination status. However, now that the playoffs are getting underway, the Barclays Center has taken away its vaccination requirement thus allowing Irving to play in home games as well as away games. So, now with Irving on the floor for the entire series, I would expect a much tighter series.
Since January, the Celtics have been pretty much the best all-around team in the NBA. However, they will have to take on these Nets without their defensive anchor in the middle of the paint, Robert Williams. Williams is a nightly double-double threat and without him, the Celtics could get dominated on the boards with Andre Drummond manning the middle for the Nets.
Keys to the series
The most important key to the series for the Celtics is the performance of Jayson Tatum. In their most recent matchup with the Nets, Tatum had a career night getting 54 points while hitting eight threes while leading the Celtics to a 126–120 victory against a healthy Durant and Irving. Tatum is going to need to have more games like this if the Celtics want to come away with this series.
The next key is the Celtics defense. One thing that the Celtics are known for is being able to switch everything. Now, with Daniel Theis in instead of Williams, the Celtics have a little less versatility on that front. However, Theis has shown that he can be a formidable defender, and as long as he can give half of what Williams gives you on the defensive end, then the Celtics should be in good shape.
The last key to the series is the length of the series. Game one officially takes place on April 17, however if the series makes it to seven games, then the series would end on May 1. If this series does make it to game six or seven, we could see a series that could include the likes of Williams making his return to the Celtics after tearing his meniscus, and we could potentially see the long-awaited debut of Ben Simmons for the Brooklyn Nets. The return of those two players could potentially change the entire dynamic of the series. Both players can supply big upgrades on the defensive end. The only difference is that Simmons hasn’t played basketball at all this season, so his impact on the offensive end isn’t guaranteed to be positive at all, especially considering he has virtually a non-existent jump shot. It’ll be interesting to see how this series shapes out, especially if it makes it to a game six or seven.

About the Contributor
Bianca Oppedisano, Illustrator