The Brooklyn Nets (4-2) take on the Boston Celtics (5-3), tonight at 8 P.M. at Barclays Center. Here's all you need to know, and probably some stuff you don't.
The Who/What/Where/When: The Brooklyn Nets take on the Boston Celtics tonight (Thursday, November 15th), at Barclays Center at 8:00 P.M. The Celtics have won three straight and have just one game away before returning home Saturday. They're in the second game of a four-game-in-five-nights stand. The Nets are ending a three-game homestand and have their first two-day break after tonight.
TV/Radio: Tonight's game will be broadcast nationally on TNT, on WFAN Radio, and on WADO radio in Spanish. Marv Albert, born and raised in Brooklyn, is doing the play-by-play in his first Brooklyn Nets game. Chris Carrino and Tim Capstraw are on English radio, Rafael Hernandez Brito and Ino Gomez are on Spanish.
Starters: With Crash out for the sixth straight game, the Brooklyn Nets will presumably again start Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries, and Brook Lopez. Rajon Rondo is out tonight, and the Celtics will start Leandro Barbosa in his place, along with Jason Terry, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass, and Kevin Garnett.
Key reserves: MarShon Brooks is active, though it's not clear how much he'll play. As the custom, they'll lean heavily on their starting backcourt to anchor their second unit. As Tim Bontemps of the New York Post noted today, the Brooklyn Nets are +34 in offensive rating in the second quarter this season, and Avery might not want to mess with a winning formula.
The Nets have given their biggest minutes to C.J. Watson, Andray Blatche (who left Wednesday's practice with a migraine but should be fine for today), and Reggie Evans, and also employ Jerry Stackhouse, who needs little introduction. The Celtics will have former Net Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green, and Chris Wilcox. They also have Darko Milicic, who somehow has a PER of -30.6.
Key Advanced Statistics:
Brooklyn Nets: Offensive rating 107.8 (6th), Defensive rating 103.0 (17th), 89.5 possessions per game (30th)
Boston Celtics: Offensive rating 103.9 (14th), Defensive rating 104.7 (21st), 92.5 possessions per game (13th)
Brooklyn Nets Offense (league rank): eFG% .500 (T-7th), TOV% 14.3 (16th), ORB% 29.4 (8th), FT/FGA .229 (7th)
Boston Celtics Offense (league rank): eFG% .500 (T-7th), TOV% 13.2 (7th), ORB% 15.9 (30th), FT/FGA .267 (3rd)
Brooklyn Nets Defense (league rank): eFG% .483 (19th), TOV% 12.9 (23rd), DRB% 73.2% (20th), FT/FGA .170 (3rd)
Boston Celtics Defense (league rank): eFG% .488 (23rd), TOV% 13.5 (T-17th), DRB% 74.7 (8th), FT/FGA .206 (T-15th)
Season standings: The Brooklyn Nets are 4-2 and on a three-game winning stream. The Boston Celtics are 5-3, also on a three-game winning streak. They're technically tied for second in the Atlantic Division.
A lot is riding on... if Rajon Rondo is healthy and plays basketball like he's healthy tonight. With him down, the Celtics lose a lot of their offensive creativity and fun. The fact that it's a nationally televised game only makes it more important: of Rondo's 18 career triple-doubles, 14 have come in nationally televised games. Werp. Rondo will sit tonight.
Keep an eye out for... the crowd. New Jersey Nets and Knicks games are routinely filled with Celtics fans on game nights. This is the first real crowd test in that sense: fans aren't traveling from Orlando or Cleveland to infiltrate the arena, but Boston is a different story. Take a listen to the wave, keep an eye out for green. It'll be interesting to see how many are in the stands tonight.
In 2K13: Celtics win, 97-92. The Celtics hand the imaginary Nets their ¡first! imaginary loss of the season. Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 25 points and Rajon Rondo (who I assumed was playing at the time) added 14 points and 17 assists. Deron Williams led the Nets with 26 points and 9 assists, but his backcourt mate Joe Johnson struggled to score, finishing with just 11 points on 4-17 shooting. Brook Lopez chipped in 19 points but only grabbed two rebounds, falling well short of his matchup Kevin Garnett, who finished with 14 rebounds (and 12 points).
NBA 2K13 Record: 6-1
2K13 as predictor: 4-2
The Nets will win if... The Celtics fall apart offensively without Rondo, their offensive catalyst. If the Nets try not to attack Kevin Garnett on switches and pick-and-rolls and abuse the rest of the frontcourt instead. If Joe Johnson builds on Tuesday's fourth quarter and continues to beat up on every matchup advantage he can find. If Brook Lopez can find a way to take down Kevin Garnett in man coverage. If the Nets somehow find a way to shroud Paul Pierce with a five-man defense, or if Joe Johnson ends up checking him successfully at small forward for most of the game.
The Celtics will win if... History takes its course. If the Nets get stifled by a Boston defense that hasn't really clicked yet but inevitably will find its way. If the Celtics find their spot-up shooters in Jason Terry and Courtney Lee consistently and abuse the Nets' shaky rotations with rapid ball movement. If Kevin Garnett abuses Brook Lopez in the post and the Nets interior defense can't cut off dumpdowns at the rim.