The Brooklyn Nets visit the Boston Celtics Wednesday night in Game 2 of what’s expected to be a long first-round series. If Game 1 was any indication, this matchup might be the most difficult to predict of any for the 2022 NBA playoffs.

The betting odds favor the Celtics by 3.5 points at home in Game 2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Boston is given -158 odds to win straight up and take a 2-0 series lead. Brooklyn is a +134 underdog after nearly stealing home-court advantage in the series opener.

Kevin Durant is the best player in the series, but all eyes will be on Kyrie Irving at TD Garden. Currently the biggest villain in all of Boston sports, Irving was outstanding in Game 1 amid raucous boos and vulgar exchanges with Celtics fans.

Irving scored 39 points on 12-20 shooting in Game 1. The ex-Celtic had five rebounds, six assists and foul steals. Had Durant even come close to his usual production, Irving would’ve been the star of a Game 1 Brooklyn victory. 

Durant scored just 23 points on 24 field-goal attempts. The two-time NBA Finals MVP turned the ball over six times, hounded by Boston defenders. Durant’s miss on Brooklyn’s final possession allowed for Jayson Tatum to hit a layup as time expired to give the Celtics a 115-114 Game 1 victory. 

 

 

Durant is almost certain to play much better. Irving will have an extremely difficult time matching his Game 1 numbers. What does that mean for Brooklyn’s chances of winning in Boston?

Jayson Tatum’s 31 points on 50% shooting with eight assists and four rebounds weren’t far from his averages against the Nets in four regular-season games. Expect a similar performance from him in Game 2. The same goes for Jaylen Brown, who had 23 points and four steals.

Al Horford and Marcus Smart, on the other hand, are due to take a step back offensively. The duo combined for 40 points on 6-11 three-point shooting. In the regular season, Horford and Smart averaged 23.3 combined points while making one-third of their three-point attempts.

Brooklyn’s defense remains below average, but it’s better than what it showed during the regular season. Boston’s top-ranked defense isn’t quite what it was because of Robert Williams’ injury.

Game 2 could be another nail-biter, but an improved performance by Durant and Irving’s ability to thrive off the Boston crowd will help Brooklyn even the series.

Game 2 Prediction: Nets over Celtics, 110-107

Kyrie Irving Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on against the Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center on March 27, 2022 in New York City. Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images