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Celtics at Nets Game 4

The Boston Celtics will look to complete the sweep when they visit the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night at the Barclays Center. Boston was able to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in their Eastern Conference first round matchup getting a 109-103 win in Brooklyn on Saturday night. 

Brooklyn had hoped to get a mini spark by unveiling Ben Simmons in his first action with the team after being acquired at the trade deadline. It’s looking likely that Simmons will not be available on Monday, and if the Nets lose it will be next season that the talented – but maligned – point guard makes his team debut. 

Boston Has Championship Caliber Defense

The Celtics could emerge from this first round playoff series as the favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference, although the Heat and Bucks have looked pretty solid in their respective playoff matchups as well. What sets Boston ahead of those teams is this swarming defense that is tops in opponent points scored (104.5), field goal percentage (43.4) and three point shooting (33.9). 

While the Boston defense has been solid, you can’t overlook how good Jayson Tatum has been through the first three games as well. He hit the last second layup to take Game 1, and had 39 in Saturday’s six point win. Tatum is averaging 29.7 ppg this series, with Jaylen Brown close behind him at 22.7 ppg. 

Durant Not a Factor  

Boston has the #1 defensive efficiency in the league this year, but what they are doing to Kevin Durant this series is impressive even for them. Durant shot 2-12 in the first half of Game 1, 0-10 in the second half of Game 2, and was ghostlike with 16 points on 6-11 shooting on Saturday. That’s the fewest attempts Durant has taken in a playoff game since the 2017 Western Conference Finals. 

Durant is definitely in his own head right now, saying after Game 2 “every direction I went there was a Celtics defender” and after Game 3, “I’m thinking too much this whole series.” It’s likely Durant’s struggles continue in Game 4, so the Nets could really use a breakout game from Kyrie Irving even though he had just16 points in Game 3, including an 0-7 night from beyond the arc. 

Celtics vs Nets Pick and Prediction

The Nets may have come into Monday’s game with a little different attitude if they were able to capture Game 3 back at home, but now Brooklyn is in a 0-3 hole which no team in the NBA has ever come back from. Then again Toronto was in this situation on Saturday and the Nuggets on Sunday, but they were both able to get victories and keep their seasons alive. 

Look for Brooklyn to follow that trend and pick up the victory in Game 4 as -1 point favorites. Durant has been historically bad this series, but he (and Irving) can erupt for 35+ on any given night. That’s what the Nets will need in this spot. 

Pick: Brooklyn -1

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