Celtics vs. Nets: Underrated X-Factors for Thursday's Key Battle

Tim KeeneyContributor INovember 15, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 19: MarShon Brooks #9 of the Brooklyn Nets carries the ball against the Philadelphia 76ers during a preseason game at the Barclays Center on October 19, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The 76ers defeated the Nets 106-76. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

We know about the Big Three. Or, in terms of the Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets, we know about the "Big Six". 

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson will undoubtedly have a large impact on Thursday night's battle, but in the end, don't be surprised if the role players swing the game in either direction. 

Let's take a look at the underrated X-factors in this important early-season Atlantic matchup. 


MarShon Brooks, Brooklyn Nets

There's no doubt just how explosive the Nets' starting lineup can be. The second unit, especially when Gerald Wallace is out due to injury, lacks a little somethin' somethin', however.

MarShon Brooks has the ability to change that.

The second-year guard is instant offense. He showed a propensity to be inconsistent last year, but now he's taking better shots and quickly turning Brooklyn's bench into a dangerous unit.

Brooks, who missed the first three games of the season, is averaging 10.3 points in 19.7 minutes per game. He's shooting a gaudy .632 from the field on 6.3 shots per game and has drilled his only three-point attempt. 

Also, Brooks having an important, game-changing performance for Brooklyn just makes too much sense. 


Jeff Green, Boston Celtics

It's been a rough start to the year for Green, who got a hefty contract in the offseason. So far, he has averaged 7.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.71 steals and 0.57 blocks per game. 

Still though, Green's worth goes far beyond the stat sheet.

He provides energy. He guards multiple positions. He brings impressive athleticism and can play both forward positions. He plays smart and gives Doc Rivers a reliable 20 minutes off the bench per game. 

Green's impact on the defensive end and in the mid-range offensive game will be a key development to watch in this one. 


Reggie Evans, Brooklyn Nets

I literally can't express how excited I am to see Reggie Evans match up with Kevin Garnett. 

Not only has Evans been one of the most efficient rebounders in the league so far this year (6.8 rebounds in 16.7 minutes per game), but he brings endless energy and plays with a style that is sure to piss off anyone in his way. 

Yes, he's going to play defense and rebound with ferocity. But if he finds a way to get under the skin of Boston's veterans, he's going to swing this game in the favor of the Nets.