2021 NBA playoffs: Breaking down Nets-Celtics matchup

Styles make fights, and with the Nets tipping off their first-round playoff series Saturday against visiting Boston, The Post’s Brian Lewis breaks down the matchups that may resolve what sort of combat that is going to be:

Nets’ 3-point taking pictures vs. Celtics’ 3-point protection

Joe Harris led the NBA in 3-point taking pictures for the second time in three years, and Brooklyn’s 39.2 p.c as a staff was second-best within the league. Despite having elite defensive wings Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart, Boston’s 3-point proportion protection is backside 10 within the league, and the Nets have simply has too many floor-spacers to cease. Edge: Nets

Celtics’ 3-point taking pictures vs. Nets’ 3-point protection

Brooklyn’s weak 3-point protection was next-to-last within the NBA over the ultimate 15 video games. The Celtics are tenth in makes an attempt and proportion made, and Kemba Walker hit three 3-pointers within the first three minutes of the second half within the play-in victory over Washington on Tuesday evening. But dropping Jaylen Brown, out for the season following wrist surgical procedure, hurts Boston’s protection. Edge: Celtics

Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum
Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum
Getty Images (2)

Rebounding

Both groups are fair-to-middling on the boards. That’s not nice information for the Celtics, who’re restricted offensively proper now and are doubtless going to need to dominate Brooklyn on the glass to drag off an upset on this collection. Edge: Even

Drawing fouls and taking pictures free throws

Brooklyn is simply eighth in free throws tried, however that’s a deceptive stat with the Nets’ Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving taking part in simply eight video games collectively your complete common season. Durant is twelfth in makes an attempt per recreation, and anyone who’s ever watched Harden’s profession is aware of he can flip a recreation right into a parade to the charity stripe. Edge: Nets

Nets’ capability to get paint factors vs. Celtics’ inside protection

Other than LaMarcus Aldridge’s all-too-brief stint in Brooklyn earlier than his sudden retirement due to a coronary heart situation, neither staff has a respectable post-up risk. The Big 3 get within the paint on isolation performs, pick-and-rolls and the like. Despite an absence of elite rim safety, Boston has allowed the fifth-fewest factors within the paint. Edge: Even

Celtics’ capability to get paint factors vs. Nets’ inside protection

Like most facets of Brooklyn’s much-maligned protection, it’s weak. But after rating a horrible twenty eighth in factors within the paint allowed earlier than the All-Star break, the Nets have improved to sixth within the second half of the season. Boston doesn’t have an awesome put up risk, however Tatum and Walker can get into the lane. Edge: Even

In transition

The Nets rank within the prime 10 in quick break factors, whereas Boston’s top-10 transition protection rose to the problem in opposition to Washington’s Russell Westbrook within the play-in spherical. Losing Brown hurts the Celtics on each ends, whereas the Nets’ transition protection — under common within the first half of the season — is prime 5 within the final 15 video games. Edge: Even

Depth/bench

As regular, rotations will shrink within the playoffs. Boston goes to wish middle Tristan Thompson to be stellar (as he was in opposition to Washington), particularly if Robert Williams III is ailing. The Nets’ crunch for minutes could possibly be powerful, however a bench led by Jeff Green, Nic Claxton, Landry Shamet and Bruce Brown has a determined benefit. Edge: Nets

Coaching

Brad Stevens placed on a clinic in opposition to Washington, limiting Westbrook’s passing lanes in transition, utilizing larger gamers like Tatum and Evan Fournier to maintain him from the rim. Despite the flap over his reward of the Nets, he has an enormous expertise edge on rookie Steve Nash, who will lean on assistant coaches Mike D’Antoni and Jacque Vaughn. Edge: Celtics

Intangibles

The Nets’ Big 3 has solely had 202 minutes sprinkled over eight video games to construct cohesion. But the Celtics had a complete season to construct one thing and went simply .500. With abilities like Tatum (and Brown earlier than he received damage), it begs the query of precisely what’s been flawed in Boston? Edge: Nets

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