• The Nets are better off facing the hobbled Celtics rather than the Heat
  • Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are likely to shine in the series against the Celtics
  • The Celtics will be without Robert Williams III due to a torn meniscus

The Brooklyn Nets are set to face the Boston Celtics in the two-versus-seven matchup following their victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the play-in tournament.

The Nets’ dynamic duo of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant combined for 59 points in their 115-108 victory over the Cavaliers, stopping the momentum of the talent-laden Cavaliers dead in its tracks.

In their four regular-season matchups with both the Celtics and Heat, Brooklyn has a record of 1-4 against the two teams, but Boston may pose a more favorable matchup than the Heat.

What many should remember is that Celtics big man Robert Williams III is out for the season due to a torn meniscus and they will have to rely on replacing him by committee.

Daniel Theis is expected to be the starter for Game 1, with head coach Ime Udoka potentially swapping him with either Grant Williams or Al Horford based on what the Nets frontcourt will look like moving forward.

Their core of Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum will have to work overtime for the next few games in stemming the incoming offensive downpour from both Durant and Irving.

For the Nets, the offense will need to step on the gas and take advantage of the Celtics’ lack of depth upfront.

Durant is expected to make the midrange his home as it has always been since he entered the league, and Irving will likely drive strong to the rim to draw the help side defense and either fish for a foul or throw it to one of their shooters.

Having the No. 1-ranked defense in the NBA as their opening playoff matchup does no favors for them, but it is arguably a safer route than going through the Heat’s No. 4-ranked defense.

Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler’s combined ability to switch on all five positions at any time is a scary thought for the Nets to deal with, while the hot hands of Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson will force them out of their comfort zones.

Though a Nets-Heat matchup would be interesting for the fans, Brooklyn did themselves a favor by doing just enough to beat out the Cavs and match up with the Williams-less Celtics.

Boston Celtics
Payton Pritchard #11, Grant Williams #12 and Daniel Theis #27 help up Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics from the floor during the second half against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on April 10, 2022 in Memphis, Tennessee. Justin Ford/Getty Images