The Brooklyn Nets (9-4) face the Boston Celtics (8-6) at T.D. Garden in Brooklyn tonight. Check out what you need to know.
Remember: you can grade the players at any time.
The Who/What/Where/When: The Brooklyn Nets take on the Boston Celtics tonight (Wednesday, November 28th), at T.D. Garden in Boston at 7:30 P.M. The Celtics are playing their first of a brief two-game homestand, and the Nets are opening a three-game road trip up north before traveling down to Florida to face the Orlando Magic & Miami Heat.
TV/Radio: Today's game will be broadcast on YES Network. Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel are on the call. The game will be called on the radio on WFAN, and in Spanish radio on WADO.
The division: The Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics rivalry hasn't really been one lately, which is how it tends to go when one team is vastly superior to the other. Once the Celtics traded for Kevin Garnett in the summer of 2007, the Celtics held a stronghold over the rest of the Atlantic Division. But today? No more. The Knicks look excellent, the Nets have begun to surge, and even the Sixers have gotten behind a stingy defense and a much-improved Jrue Holiday. As of tonight's game, the once-indomitable Celtics rank fourth in the Atlantic Division, only ahead of the hapless, depressing Toronto Raptors.
Breaking Boston: The Nets haven't won a game against a full-strength Celtics team since the Garnett trade. (They've won once, but Paul Pierce sat.) Will that change tonight?
Starters: The Celtics have been without combo guard and defensive stalwart Avery Bradley all season, and barring a surprise injury will presumably start the five they've been starting: Rajon Rondo, Jason Terry, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass, and Kevin Garnett. Similarly, the Nets will presumably start their standard five: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, and Brook Lopez.
Key reserves: The last time these two played, the Celtics got good minutes from Leandro Barbosa (who replaced Rondo in the starting lineup), and he'll probably do solid things again. Also watch out for small forward Jeff Green, big man Chris Wilcox, and former Nets shooting guard Courtney Lee.
The Nets have their bench mob in full effect, led most recently by power forward Reggie Evans, power forward/center Andray Blatche, point guard C.J. Watson, and shooting guard & owner of every internet domain Jerry Stackhouse. MarShon Brooks is still curiously out of the rotation, though he did score 15 points in one half against this Celtics team last year.
Key Advanced Statistics:
Brooklyn Nets: Offensive rating 104.2 (7th), Defensive rating 101.1 (14th), 90.35 possessions per game (30th)
Boston Celtics: Offensive rating 103.9 (8th), Defensive rating 103.7 (21st), 94.62 possessions per game (16th)
Brooklyn Nets Offense (league rank): eFG% 48.7% (14th), TOV% 14.8% (7th), ORB% 30.8% (7th), FT/FGA .286 (15th)
Boston Celtics Offense (league rank): eFG% 51.2% (6th), TOV% 14.6% (6th), ORB% 18.5% (30th), FT/FGA .299 (8th)
Brooklyn Nets Defense (league rank): eFG% 48.7% (16nd), TOV% 16.1% (13th), DRB% 70.5% (27th), FT/FGA .260 (10th)
Boston Celtics Defense (league rank): eFG% 50.5% (26th), TOV% 15.8% (15th), DRB% 74.7% (6th), FT/FGA .284 (17th)
Note: from here forward, some of the advanced stats are going to look a little different. We're pulling them from a site that calculates possessions slightly differently. The concepts are still the same.
What those numbers mean: The Nets currently have a better offense and a better defense than the Celtics, which is kind of insane after the past few years. The Nets offense is most successful because they've limited turnovers and crashed the offensive glass, while the Celtics offense has scored efficiently but has one of the lowest offensive rebound rates in history. Defensively, the Nets have done an average job at just about everything outside of their main weakness, crashing the defensive glass. The Celtics allow teams to score easily but grab many more defensive rebounds.
Season standings: The Brooklyn Nets are 9-4 after winning Monday night's Battle For All The Pixie Sticks against the Manhattan/New York Knicks. They're tied with those Knicks for first in the division and second in the Eastern Conference. The Boston Celtics are 8-6 -- fourth in the Atlantic and seventh in the conference.
Matchup of Exceptional Intrigue, Part I: Deron Williams & Rajon Rondo are arguably the two best point guards in the Eastern Conference with Derrick Rose out due to injury. They missed a chance to go head-to-head in their last matchup because of Rondo's injury, but now he's back with an assist streak on the line. Always fun to watch these two go at it.
Matchup of Exceptional Intrigue, Part II: Like Rondo, Gerald Wallace was injured in the last matchup between these two, and Paul Pierce responded accordingly by scoring 22 efficient points on just 12 shots. Wallace is by far this team's best perimeter defender and the only one adequate enough to check Pierce. Watching Wallace check Pierce is bound to be interesting, and may decide the game.