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Boston Celtics vs Brooklyn Nets NBA Pick – January 14th

Both coming off of tough games, Atlantic Division rivals Boston Celtics (25-17) and Brooklyn Nets (21-23) look to rebound from losses, as well as gain in the playoff race.

The teams met just last week, where the Celtics handled the Nets easily in a 116-95 win Monday night at Boston — a game where Brooklyn was horrendous allowing 30 points off of 25 turnovers.

Now the Nets will look for revenge tonight in Brooklyn, New York City.

And this isn’t the same Nets team from the last few years either, and that’s evident of Brooklyn going 13-5 in their last 18 games. But there’s a problem with the record.

Against winning teams, the Nets’ record is 6-13. And the fashion that the team has been losing in hasn’t been brilliant either. Other than the blowout loss against Boston, Brooklyn also recently got manhandled by the Toronto Raptors in a 122-105 loss — a game where they trailed by 26 at one time and were outscored by a pace of 71-40 in the second and third quarters.

The Nets need to look at tonight as an opportunity to get things right against winning organizations, because things aren’t getting any easier for them. Before the All-Star break, Brooklyn still has eight games left against over .500 teams — including a trip to Houston and yet another visit to Boston.

Here’s a bright spot for the Nets entering the game tonight though: The only time that Brooklyn has lost consecutive games in this 18-game stretch was when they played Milwaukee back on December 28-29. That streak will face a tremendous test against the Celtics tonight.

That’s especially true when you look at the shooting struggles of the Nets. In the loss against Toronto, D’Angelo Russell was the only one who achieved success with 24 points — the rest of the team, except one, failed to hit double figures. They only hit 42% of their shots.

Boston comes in facing problems of their own. They head to Brooklyn looking to avoid three consecutive losses for the third time this season. Good news for the Celtics, however, they won seven out of their last nine before taking losses against the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic last week.

They’re also facing chemistry issues. Boston’s Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown got into a shoving match during a timeout against the Heat. A couple of nights later, chemistry problems showed itself again when the Celtics blew a 12-point lead against Orlando to lose the game. 

And that’s not all. After Jayson Tatum missed the potential game-tying shot, Kyrie Irving appeared frustrated and let it out on Gordon Hayward after he had inbounded the ball early. After the game, Irving then went on to vent about the inexperience of Boston’s youth, and only being No. 5 in the Eastern Conference standings — this after lighting up the scoreboard with 25 points while his teammates only shot 29% from the field.

Speaking of Kyrie Irving, he’s questionable tonight against the Brooklyn Nets with a right quad contusion. Obviously, this is a huge factor that the Nets could take advantage of being at home.

The problem is: Brooklyn is 0-10 in their last 10 games against the Boston Celtics.

INJURY REPORT

BOSTON CELTICS

  • KYRIE IRVING: Right Quadriceps Bruise (Questionable — Game-Time Decision)

BROOKLYN NETS

  • RONDAE HOLLIS-JEFFERSON: Groin (Questionable)
  • JARED DUDLEY: Hamstring (Out — Day-To-Day)

PLAYERS TO WATCH

BOSTON CELTICS

KYRIE IRVING
Uncle Drew is questionable tonight with it being a game-time decision, so we obviously don’t know if he’s going to play or not. With the latest struggles that Boston has been on, you have to assume he’ll be lacing up the sneakers. If he does play, the Nets will be tasked with stopping magnificent shooting — 22.7 PPG off of 48.9 FG%. With a PER of 24.55, you know the effectiveness is there in the assist market and on the rebounding end as well. While lighting up the scoreboard through 6.4 APG, he also hits the glass with 4.8 RPG.
JAYSON TATUM
Not only does Jayson Tatum play a Robin role to Kyrie “Batman” Irving in the scoring department, Tatum also leads the team in rebounding as well. Shooting the ball this season, the former Duke guard has been solid averaging 16.2 PPG and off of 44.5 FG%. What makes the 20-year old so lethal as well is that he’s already leading one of the best teams in the NBA on the glass — he averages 6.3 RPG for the season. With being a threat in scoring the ball and grabbing boards, the Nets have their work cut out tonight with Tatum’s 15.65 PER.

BROOKLYN NETS

DE’ANGELO RUSSELL
The youngster has been impressive this season leading Brooklyn in scoring, and has compiled a 17.71 PER off of good play in ball movement and on the boards as well. In the scoring department, Russell has lit opposition up averaging 18.3 PPG, however, the shooting has been weak only hitting a mark of 42.9 FG%. Remember though: The kid is only 22-years old. With 6.3 APG and 3.8 RPG averages, Russell will one day be lethal with increased shooting percentage. But right now, tonight, he will just be a headache for Boston.
JARRETT ALLEN
Another youngin’ that Boston will have to worry about is second-year big-man Jarret Allen, who is nearly averaging a double-double for the season this early in his career — which is why he’s nearly hitting a 20.00 PER at 19.78. In the points game, Allen has hit double digits at 11.5 PPG, and shooting in the paint has been magnificent as well at 58.4 FG%. On the glass, Allen has been destroying opponents pulling down 8.3 RPG, and his defense also deserves some credit: He’s averaging 1.5 BLKPG for the season.

CHECK THE NUMBERS

BOSTON CELTICS

Other than the defensive side of things, the Celtics don’t really have an edge in any of the statistical categories. In offensive production, Boston has the narrow +1 edge in points-per-game at 111.9 PPG — they shoot at a 45.8 FG% mark, which is only a +0.5 advantage. On the glass, the Celtics are actually in the negative here, but like their advantages, it’s only narrow. They trail the Nets with a 45.1 RPG average. Here’s where Boston has them though: A +6 advantage in ball protection — Boston sits at 105.6 PA.

BROOKLYN NETS

On the offensive side for the Brooklyn Nets, they level up evenly with the Boston Celtics only trailing -1 at 110.7 — they also line up with Boston in shooting percentage, only having a -0.5 disadvantage with 45.3 FG%. On the rebounding end, Brooklyn holds the extremely narrow edge at +0.4 at 45.4 RPG. Like previously mentioned, however, the Nets have a problem on the defensive side against the Boston Celtics. They have a -6 disadvantage hitting over the 110 mark at 111.5 PA — not something you want facing off against a Kyrie Irving.

POWELL’S PREDICTION

With Brooklyn being at home and the statistics being nearly identical, you have to like the Nets’ chances of pulling off the upset over Boston — especially with the latest struggles and issues that the Celtics are undergoing. 

My only question for Brooklyn is if they can keep up with the scoring of Kyrie Irving — assuming he’s playing — Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and the rest of the high-scoring C’s. On paper, they can, but can they keep the consistency of their 45.3 FG%? That’s what concerns me with their top-scorer De’Angelo Russell only hitting 42.9% of his shots. If the percentage is low, the Nets won’t be able to get around the -6 disadvantage on defense.

With Boston desperately wanting to avoid a third straight loss, I can see an excellent brand of basketball coming from them tonight. Things won’t be easy on the road though, I can see Brooklyn keeping things close to scare the Celtics in their ‘struggle phase’. Eventually, Boston has to break out of this slump though before the playoffs start in April, and you think they will considering their cast. And why not get things started tonight at losing 21-23 Brooklyn? 

Celtics win a playoff positioning dog-fight to begin their tune-up.

PREDICTION: Boston Celtics 111, Brooklyn Nets 108

My Pick
BROOKLYN NETS +4

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