We all entered this season probably thinking that the Christmas Day slate would be reserved for LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers throttling the Dallas Mavericks. Or the Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks going head-to-head. Instead, perhaps the most anticipated matchup should be the Brooklyn Nets vs. the Boston Celtics.
The Nets finally showcased their new-look roster featuring Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving with coach Steve Nash. Brooklyn may have the deepest roster in the NBA and has two of the premier scorers in the League. Durant is a generational talent and future HOFer. Irving might be the same deal. The Nets might be on the verge of something special this season.
As for the Celtics, well, all they did was pull out a win over the Milwaukee Bucks on opening night thanks to 19-year-old Jayson Tatum. Boston had some roster turnover with Kemba Walker out for now and Gordon Hayward in Charlotte. That didn’t stop the Celtics from pulling off a win against Giannis.
Caris LeVert ($12,000) — Despite coming off the bench, LeVert scored 20 points with 9 boards and 5 assists in the opening win over the Dubs. You could argue a lot of the reason LeVert was in there was because garbage time. I don’t think that’s the case. LeVert will be heading the second unit and that will almost always give him an advantage over the opponent. The Nets used LeVert in a lot of situations with Kyrie and Durant off the court, so he was basically the guy. The Celtics did a poor job containing a similar wing in Khris Middleton in their opener.
DeAndre Jordan ($9,600) — This is a bit of a nutty pick given the names in this contest. Hear me out, though. The Celtics got crushed on the glass against the Bucks. Boston still lacks size outside of Daniel Theis and Tristan Thompson. Jordan isn’t Giannis but he’s also not a poor rebounder. If we’re looking for a salary-relief Captain with a safe floor and double-double upside, Jordan isn’t a bad leverage play.
Kyrie Irving ($9,400) — If we know Kyrie at this point, we know he’s going to get up for this game. Boston waved goodbye to Irving and didn’t look back, so there’s plenty of bad blood there. Kyrie had a really strong first half against the Dubs in the opener and didn’t do much after because he didn’t need to. The Celtics will be a tough matchup defensively, but Irving is somewhat matchup proof, especially if he’s going to look like he did on Tuesday. Kyrie may be chalky at Captain but I think he’s a good Flex play.
Jeff Teague ($4,800) — I’m gonna ride with Teague in this contest as gassing him up in the opener. He scored 19 points off the bench against the Bucks in 25 minutes on 4-of-4 shooting from outside. The way the Nets play up in pace means the Celtics are going to need to keep up, so outside shooting will be key. Boston lacks outside shooting outside of Teague and I guess Tatum? So my guess is Teague should see around the same allotment of minutes.
Marcus Smart ($7,400) — I will fade Marcus Smart until the day I die. This is the same scenario I went with in the opening Showdown article. Smart busted big time against the Bucks, scoring 3 points on 0-of-3 shooting. Smart knows he’s a defensive specialist and needs to cede the offense to Tatum, Brown and Teague. Smart will have his hands full trying to contain Irving and LeVert. I just don’t want much to do with Smart until his price tag goes down a bit more or the matchup is better.
This game feels like it will go down to the wire and I’ve got it pegged as the best game of the Christmas Day slate. Both teams can play defense. The Nets have a bit more depth, so I’m going to lean a little bit in their favor, though both teams are efficient on offense. The Celtics showed a lot in that win over the Bucks. I think KD, Irving and Tatum will all have pretty big games. In a close one, I’m going to go with the two proven clutch players and the deeper team.
Final score: Brooklyn 104, Boston 101