The Brooklyn Nets (4-2) take on the Boston Celtics (5-3) at 8 P.M. tonight, in yet another major test at Barclays Center. The Celtics are the best non-Heat team the Nets have faced so far. This is the ¡first! time in the regular season they'll be nationally televised (not counting NBA TV), and it comes on TNT. The Nets were on TNT in preseason, also against the Boston Celtics.
The Nets will be without Gerald Wallace for the sixth straight game with his injured left ankle, and MarShon Brooks is a game-time decision with his... injured left ankle. For the Celtics, guard Avery Bradley is out as he recovers from left shoulder surgery, and point guard/Martian facilitator Rajon Rondo is a game-time decision with a sprained right ankle.
Joining me to give a little background on the Celtics is Brendan Jackson of the ESPN TrueHoop Boston Celtics blog CelticsHub. I've asked Brendan to answer three questions about this Boston team, in the hope of figuring out a little more about them. Brendan follows the Celtics as much as anyone, and has a killer jumper and better beard, so divert your attention at your own risk.
Brendan on the Boston Celtics
Devin: Outside of the Heat, the Celtics are generally considered the class of the East. Through 8 games, they're a good-not-great 5-3 but have a negative point differential and are 21st in defensive efficiency. Is this just small sample size, working through the kinks, or do you think something is off?
Brendan: After the first two games, I would have said, "all of the above." The Celtics couldn't stop anyone and the players were complete failures when it came to offensive execution. Even after they started to win a few games, it seemed to be more in spite of their performance and not because of it. That has changed substanally since they won in Chicago.
Although the transition was anything but smooth, the new acquisitions now appear to have a better grasp on the defensive rotations. "They now know the mistake they are making," is how Doc Rivers described it before last night's win against Utah. In other words, they're not lost, they know what they need to do, it's now on them to make the plays. It's been slow going, but it appears to be trending in the right direction.
Devin: How have the new additions (Terry, Barbosa, Green Sullinger, Lee, et al) fit in so far in Boston?
Brendan: It has certainly been and up and down ride. It's not really surprising that the C's newest member, Leandro Barbosa, has been the most successful. He hasn't been in Boston long enough to absorb the playbook, so he's been instructed to just go out and play. His teammates, on the other hand, still seem to be working through their own kinks, which include but are not limited to: being more aggressive, knowing where to rotate defensively, knowing when to shoot, and knowing when to create for others. At this point, I'd give the new guys a C overall, but the semester isn't even half over. They have time to bring that average up.
Devin: When the Celtics came to town to play the Nets these past few years, you could generally expect as a Celtics fan to leave with a victory. Now that circumstances have changed, do you still have that expectation?
Brendan: Definitely not. Remember, it was not so long ago that Jason Kidd, Kerry Kittles, Kenyon Martin, Richard Jefferson, and Todd MacCulloch (yes, this Todd MacCulloch) were destroying the lives of Celtics fans year in and year out. The Celtics have been on a nice run in terms of dominating the Atlantic Division, but with New York, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn all getting better in the offseason, I don't see any team going into someone else's house expecting to win.