Sometime in the first half of the year, Kyrie Irving was front and center of the Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics matchup.
This felt like a decade ago, but this actually happened in May. It was the first round of the playoffs, and the ex-Celtic Irving was returning to Boston for Game 3. He was wildly booed and the Nets lost.
The Nets bounced back in Game 4 with the score of—it didn’t really matter. What mattered in that game was what happened after the final buzzer. Irving made his way to center court, high-fived a couple of teammates, then appeared to stomp on the Celtics logo.
That would be the last time the Nets played at the TD Center in Boston. They won at their homecourt in Game 5 and advanced to the second round.
Oh, what a difference half a year makes.
The Nets will make their first visit to Boston this season, but this time, there will be no more boos for Irving. There will also be no Irving to boo.
It’s somewhat of a new-look Nets heading to Boston. They’re Irving-less, although Kevin Durant and James Harden—or at least a dude who definitely looks like him—are still heavily present.
The Nets’ supporting cast got a veteran upgrade in Patty Mills and LaMarcus Aldridge. The Nets are getting an average of three 3s from Mills per game while getting a healthy 13 and 6 from LMA. That has been huge for Brooklyn, a team that’s missing not only their champion point guard, but also Joe Harris (ankle), Bruce Brown (hamstring), and Nicolas Claxton (illness).
The Celtics, meanwhile, just got Jaylen Brown back after a long eight-game absence due to a hamstring injury, although he’s listed as questionable for tomorrow. Robert Williams has also returned to his starting center spot.
This pushes Dennis Schroder, who’s been both economically and spectacularly great so far for Boston, back to the bench. This makes him more of a dangerous weapon against the Nets’ reserves.
Then there’s Jayson Tatum, who’s making a run for MVP with averages of 26 points, eight rebounds, and four assists per game. He’s currently eighth in the league in scoring.
Who’s the league’s scoring leader, you might ask? That would be Kevin Durant, who’s been on a personal tear recently.
Irving drama aside and forgotten, the Nets versus Celtics matchup have enough storylines to make it an exciting one: the KD-Tatum duel, the Aldridge-Horford fight for big man vet supremacy, the Harden-Celtics defense battle, and the list goes on.
There’s a big chance these two teams will meet again down the line. Don’t miss the potential playoff preview at 8:30 AM on NBA TV Philippines via Smart GigaPlay app or Cignal TV.