Game Preview: Nets at Celtics
This story was written by Field Level Media and posted by Marc D’Amico of Celtics.com
The Brooklyn Nets could get reinforcements for Wednesday’s road game against the Boston Celtics.
Ben Simmons (knee) and TJ Warren (shin contusion) have each missed the team’s last two games, but could be available against Boston.
“Yeah, I just hope they’ll be ready for Wednesday,” Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn said before the Nets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 121-104 on Monday night. “Both are showing signs of progress which is good. Hopeful for Wednesday.”
Simmons has struggled with knee pain at times this season and sat out Monday’s contest as a precaution. He came out in the third quarter of Thursday’s loss to Detroit. It was the second game in as many nights for the Nets.
The Nets also played without Kevin Durant, who hasn’t been in the roster since sustaining an MCL sprain in a win at Miami on Jan. 8. Brooklyn is 4-6 since the injury.
Durant, 34, is averaging 29.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. He is due for reassessment on February 7.
The Celtics are dealing with their own injury issues. Boston has been without point guard Marcus Smart (ankle) the past four games and is 1-3 in that stretch. Boston snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Lakers 125-121 in overtime on Saturday night.
Smart, the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, said Tuesday he was feeling “good” but didn’t want to rush his comeback. Smart is averaging 11.1 points and a career-high 7.2 assists per game this season.
“I’m here for longevity,” he said. “If that means I have to sacrifice a few games here and there, that’s exactly what we have to do. But I’m improving. It’s taking a little longer than expected.”
Boston center Robert Williams III was also unavailable for the win over the Lakers with a sprained right ankle.
Boston hasn’t played since its controversial win over Los Angeles. With the game tied, LeBron James missed a layup that would have given the Lakers the win. James maintained that he was fouled by Jayson Tatum on the play, and the National Basketball Referees Association later admitted that the lack of appeal was a mistake.
“At the end of the day, the players decided this game,” Boston’s Jaylen Brown said. “We made plays on the stretch. They made plays on the stretch. And I thought it was a good game. It was probably one of the biggest games in our recent Lakers-Celtics game. .”
Wednesday’s game will be the Celtics’ third meeting with the Nets this season. Tatum had 20 points and 11 rebounds when Boston beat Brooklyn 109-98 on the road on Jan. 12. It was Brooklyn’s first game after losing Durant to a knee injury. Boston was without Brown, who sat out with hip pain.
Former Celtic Kyrie Irving scored 24 points to lead the Nets. Simmons was scoreless in the loss, but had 13 assists and nine rebounds.
Boston also beat Brooklyn 103-92 on the road on Dec. 4. Brown had 34 points and 10 rebounds in the victory. Durant led Brooklyn with 31.
The Celtics, who swept the Nets in the first round of the 2021-22 playoffs, have won the last five regular season games against Brooklyn.