February 24, 2024

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Tatum-Durant duel highlights most-hyped Round 1 series

This is the most-hyped matchup in the East. The Brooklyn Nets have a healthful Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and they will be up towards the most popular workforce in the league in the Boston Celtics. Give the Celtics credit — they had a prospect to prevent Brooklyn if they tanked the previous recreation of the period, but plainly do not panic this matchup. We will see if that was confidence or hubris. 

Time series: 3-1 Celtics

Swift Tape

Celtics: 51-31 | No. 6 on offence | No. 1 on defence | No. 2 internet ranking

Nets: 44-38 | No. 13 on offence | No. 16 on defence | No. 15 internet ranking

Betting Futures

To gain collection: BOS -145, BKN +125 (Courtesy Guess365 at time of publication)

To earn championship: BOS +700, BKN +850

Celtics commencing 5: Marcus Clever, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Daniel Theis

Celtics bench: Derrick White, Grant Williams, Payton Pritchard 

Nets starting up 5: Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, Bruce Brown, Kevin Durant, Andre Drummond

Nets bench: Goran Dragic, Nic Claxton, Kessler Edwards

Pulse of the Celtics

The Celtics have been the very best team in the NBA in 2022. The Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks have a handful of far more wins, but the Celtics have outscored opponents by about 12 factors per sport given that the convert of the calendar and rattled off a extend where they gained 24 of 27 games to climb into the No. 2 seed. Losing Robert Williams to harm late in the year derailed their momentum to some extent, but there is optimism that Williams will consider the shorter restoration route with his meniscus tear, and that he may well even return at some place in the very first round. Even with out their shot-blocker, the Celtics are nevertheless incredibly formidable. Their defence is airtight, the ball is popping offensively, and Jayson Tatum is on the cusp of superstardom and all set to go toe-to-toe in opposition to Durant.

Pulse of the Nets

The Nets are much better than their document would propose, which is why most teams have been so nervous to stay clear of them in the very first round. Even immediately after a 3-17 stretch brought about by Durant’s damage, the Nets however finished with 43 wins and comfortably experienced by means of the engage in-in tournament by top wire-to-wire in opposition to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Durant and Irving are two of the most skilled players to at any time engage in basketball, and although their supporting forged is not fantastic, the Nets have gotten first rate contributions from the likes of Andre Drummond and Seth Curry (who is continue to sensation the outcomes of an ankle problem), and there are even now lingering hints that Ben Simmons may well return at some place. Brooklyn’s defence is putrid and it will eventually be their downfall, but they have much too substantially firepower to be out of the match.

Key matchup to enjoy

Kevin Durant vs. Jayson Tatum: This has the likely to be a generational matchup. What is excellent about this series is that the leading two gamers have not shied absent from enjoying each individual other, as Durant is the Nets’ only defensive alternative towards Tatum, although Tatum has relished the obstacle of heading appropriate back again at KD. The slight edge really should go to Durant just for the reason that of his track history and how deadly he is as a soar shooter, but never be shocked if Tatum plays him to a attract. Tatum is a ten years youthful, and he’s received much more enable behind him. 

Nets acquire if …

Brooklyn is not likely to surprise anyone. They will perform via Durant and Irving, and if you pick out to double them, the Nets are adept at shifting the ball and acquiring it to either Drummond at the rim or just one of their capturing guards on the perimeter. There is not a person way to quit them, and most very likely you will have to outscore them to earn. Defensively, the Nets do not have excellent matchups towards the Celtics, but if they pressure the ball out of Tatum’s fingers, there is a real looking opportunity of upsetting Boston must their part players go chilly. 

Celtics win if …

Boston must be the obvious favorite and they really should win if they just perform their sport. Tatum wants to engage in Durant to a attract, and the Celtics’ depth must earn out from there. The Celtics have been extraordinary on defence, and when their swap-weighty solution does go away them vulnerable from elite isolation scorers, the Celtics continue to have two ideal matchups with Tatum guarding Durant and Clever checking Irving. On the flip aspect, Jaylen Brown really should dominate his matchup versus the shorter Bruce Brown, and Clever should really be ready to get into the paint to generate if he’s mainly being included by Mills, Curry or Dragic.