Boston: 98.1 points/100 possessions (23rd)
New Jersey: 100.5 points/100 possessions (15th)
Boston: 96.0 points allowed/100 possessions (4th)
New Jersey: 108.9 points allowed/100 possessions (30th)
Probable New Jersey Starters: Deron Michael Williams (PG), Marshon Scitif Brooks, DeShawn Stevenson (SF), Kris Nathan Humphries (PF), Brook Robert Lopez (C)
View From the Opposing Bench: Nets Are Scorching
Boston: Brandon Bass might be out. Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Wilcox are questionable.
New Jersey: Mehmet Okur is out.
Boston last played the Nets two months ago and won 89-70. This was the New Jersey starting lineup:
Sundiata Gaines (PG), MarShon Brooks (SG), Damion James (SF), Shelden Williams (PF), Mehmet Okur (C)
For our purposes, the Celtics have not played the Nets yet this season. Only one of those players above is starting tonight. It might not be fair to lump New Jersey in with the other Eastern Conference gruel the Celtics have been slurping up lately: they have an elite player in Deron Williams, and now a very strong frontcourt with Humphries and Lopez. They’re looking to prove themselves after a couple of nice wins against New York and Dallas, and they’ll be rolling out their full lineup against Boston tonight.
Kevin Garnett will probably be responsible for guarding Brook Lopez, who scored 38 points on Brendan Haywood three nights ago on 28 shots. Look for Williams to seek out Lopez in the post many, many times.
Williams, meanswhiles, went 3-15 against Dallas, probably because with Lopez back he’s limited his drives to the rim. Williams can definitely hit jumpers, so it’s not an 100%-reliable strategy to limit him to outside shooting. But he’s been running a little cold lately, FWIW (For Williams Information Wishers).
For Boston, Brandon Bass is listed as OUT on the ESPN preview page. I haven’t heard anything else about him sitting, hence the “might be.” But without him and potentially O’Neal, I can see trouble with the Nets frontcourt. Bass also seemed to provide a little spark for the starting offense in the Milwaukee game, and though the Nets have the league’s worst defense that doesn’t account for Brook Lopez’s return.
Celtics 90, Nets 87. Boston’s favored by 6.5, but this one feels closer than that. I’d be more confident if I knew Bass were playing.