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What it will take for the Celtics to beat the Nets in their first-round series

Boston heads into its first-round playoff series without Jaylen Brown against the Nets.

Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics - Play-In Tournament
Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker of the Boston Celtics react during the second half of a game in the play-in tournament against the Washington Wizards at TD Garden on May 18, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

The No. 7 Boston Celtics managed to stave off the Washington Wizards in the play-in tournament, securing a matchup with the No. 2 seed Brooklyn Nets in the process. The Celtics will be without two-way forward Jaylen Brown due to a season-ending wrist injury and are heavy underdogs in the matchup.

Celtics keys to victory

Despite missing Brown, the Celtics still have talent. Jaysom Tatum is becoming a superstar and Kemba Walker has been steady as a point guard. Marcus Smart is a pesky defender and Evan Fournier is a capable scorer. The Nets are an offensive juggernaut, but rank 22nd in defensive rating. If the Celtics can disrupt the Nets enough on the offensive end, they’ll likely be in a position to steal some games late.

The Celtics can also play without much pressure. No one is looking at them as threats to win this series and they can afford to take risks and experiment. Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving are offensive superstars, but Boston’s physical perimeter presence can potentially take them out of rhythm. If the Celtics lock down defensively, these games could be tight.

Celtics vs. Nets series odds

Celtics: +700
Nets: -1430

As mentioned earlier, the Celtics are heavy underdogs. The Nets arguably have the three best players in the series and do have some specific areas of concern to address. It’s easy to say they’ll overlook Boston, but Brooklyn’s stars will want to find chemistry.

NBA Championship odds

Celtics: +10000
Nets: +250

Boston is playing with house money since Brown is out. The Nets are the favorites and rightfully so. They should make quick work of Boston, even if the games are close.

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