Nets ready for first playoff game of ‘Big 3’ era against Celtics

NBA

BROOKLYN — The Brooklyn Nets’ ‘Big 3’ are playing their first postseason game together and fans are pumped up for a team that many think could go all the way.

The Nets certainly have star power with James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Fans are expecting a party-like atmosphere inside the Barclays Center as final preparations were being made before for the first playoff game.

“It just feel great to finally see a playoff game and seeing the Nets in action with COVID and not being able to do anything,” said one fan.

Outside the arena, social distancing was being measured. Pre-pandemic, the Barclays Center could seat 17,700 fans, tonight it will 14,391, 93% of them vaccinated. Fans who show proof of vaccination and sitting in vaccinated sections can remove their masks once seated.

“You got respect others that’s just how I am, I’m a healthcare worker,” said another fan. “I have seen what COVID can do, but I’m not going to lie, I will probably take off my mask at some point. But in the future you want to wear a mask, go for it.”

The Nets haven’t played Sunday. Their opponents, the Boston Celtics, had to win a play-in game over the Washington Wizards Tuesday to get in.

Brooklyn went 3-0 against Boston during the regular season. The Nets won the last regular season meeting 109-104 on April 23. Joe Harris scored 20 points to help lead Brooklyn to the win and Jayson Tatum recorded 38 points in the loss for Boston.

The Nets are 26-16 in conference games. Brooklyn is 33-8 when outrebounding opponents and averages 44.4 rebounds per game.

The Celtics are 20-22 in Eastern Conference play. Boston ranks fifth in the Eastern Conference shooting 37.4% from deep. Evan Fournier leads the Celtics shooting 46.3% from 3-point range.

TOP PERFORMERS: Kevin Durant is averaging 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists for the Nets. Kyrie Irving is averaging 21.4 points and 1.5 steals over the last 10 games for Brooklyn.

Tatum leads the Celtics averaging 26.4 points and is adding 7.4 rebounds. Fournier is averaging 14.9 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 46.5% over the last 10 games for Boston.

LAST 10 GAMES:

Nets: 6-4, averaging 117.6 points, 45.3 rebounds, 26.5 assists, six steals and 5.8 blocks per game while shooting 50.3% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 113.7 points on 44.1% shooting.

Celtics: 4-6, averaging 116.8 points, 44.5 rebounds, 25.3 assists, 6.8 steals and 6.6 blocks per game while shooting 46.8% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 116.2 points on 47.6% shooting.

INJURIES:

Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie: out for season (acl), Chris Chiozza: out (hand).

Celtics: Jaylen Brown: out for season (wrist), Robert Williams III: day to day (toe).

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