Nets close out season in Boston, go for fourth straight win

Photo courtesy YES Network

When: 8 p.m. EST

Where: TD Garden

Watch: YES Network, FOX Sports Go

Listen: 101.9 FM, 660 AM

Photo courtesy YES Network

Game 82. This season feels like it has flown by (but maybe not everyone will agree on that). On Wednesday night, the Nets will close out the season against the one and only Boston Celtics. While the stakes are non-existent for both teams (the Nets are out of playoff contention and the Celtics are locked into the second seed in the Eastern Conference), any Boston-New York matchup is always fun.

The Nets are coming off a big win in their home finale. On Monday, birthday boy Allen Crabbe erupted and scored 41 points. A strong team effort led the Nets to victory, even without two of their best wings in Caris LeVert and Joe Harris. Spencer Dinwiddie, with a new haircut, had his best game in weeks with 21 points and seven assists. The Nets also held Bulls super rookie Lauri Markkanen to 3-of-14 shooting. Two strong wins against a very beatable Bulls team is all Kenny Atkinson could ask for to close the season.

The Nets have lost all three of their matchups against the Celtics this season. However, the past two losses were extremely close games in the span of a week, and it was in those games that Dinwiddie emerged as a hero for the Nets. Despite Brooklyn’s inability to beat a (somewhat) full-strength Celtics team, they still made waves and competed. That is the story of the season.

On Wednesday night, the Nets will try to finally get a W against the Celtics. A victory would be their fourth straight win, an achievement that has eluded the Nets since 2015. However, the Nets will be again be missing key players as they will be without Joe Harris and DeMarre Carroll.

Here are three things to watch heading into the season finale!

Crabbe Still Cooking?

We’re still not over Crabbe’s monster performance on Monday night. On his 26th birthday, Crabbe shot a blistering 12-of-15 from the field for 41 points, the highest point total for a Net in two years. While there have been some growing pains, Crabbe continues to look more comfortable as a go-to scorer for the Nets. Heading into the offseason, that is a positive for Crabbe and the Nets. While we may not see another 41-point performance from Crabbe on Wednesday, a consistent shooting performance could help the Nets to victory. He should try to take advantage of a Boston backcourt that is missing Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart.

Resting Up

As was mentioned, the Celtics have their fates (essentially) decided. They have the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs locked, with the only variable they have to worry about is their first-round opponent — either the Miami Heat or Washington Wizards. Wednesday’s game against the Nets will be the second half of a back-to-back for Boston, so it could be one where the Celtics rest their best players. Al Horford, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown could all sit out or play limited minutes. For the Nets, that should work to their advantage.

Even if some of their best players rest, the Celtics can still be a difficult team to beat. Aron Baynes is a frustrating player to root against, using his wide frame and hustle to frustrate the Nets’ bigs. Marcus Morris and Greg Monroe are both competent big men that could swing things in Boston’s favor in the paint and on the boards. And of course, Brad Stevens is an excellent coach and the architect of the best defense in the NBA.

The Celtics allow opponents to shoot just 33.8 percent from three, the best mark in the NBA. For a Nets team that often lives and dies by the three (and has thrived there recently), Boston’s staunch perimeter D could be a bad mix. Even with their top talent on the sideline, the Celtics could make the Nets’ season finale a headache.

Progress, Progress

If the Nets win on Wednesday, not only will it be their fourth straight win, it will also be win No. 28 on the year. Yes, that’s not a lot — but it’s an improvement. Ending the season on a winning streak could give Nets fans and players some optimism heading into the season. We have seen most of the roster improve over the course of the season:

  • Joe Harris became a bonafide role star.
  • Spencer Dinwiddie proved he belonged in the NBA after starting the season as the third-string point guard.
  • Caris LeVert found his niche as a ballhandler.
  • Jarrett Allen’s growth has been unbelievable.
  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson improved in ways nobody expected.
  • D’Angelo Russell is starting to balance his talent with team play.

The improvements are the biggest takeaway of the season.

While a win against the Celtics in Game 82 may seem like a blip on the radar in the grand scheme of things, it could be a testament to how the team has grown over the course of the year. Nets fans will miss Brooklyn basketball, the good and bad!