In a clash between Atlantic Division rivals, the Brooklyn Nets will travel to play the Boston Celtics. The Nets have won two of the first three, but the two sides haven't met since Dec. 25 and Boston won their most recent battle.
The question is, which team will win this season-series-ending showdown?
The Nets enter this game at 45-32 overall and 21-17 on the road. They've gone 8-6 during their past 14 games and hold a 2.5 game edge over the Chicago Bulls for fourth in the Eastern Conference playoff structure.
So which team will emerge with a much-needed victory?
Time: Wednesday, Apr. 10 at 8 p.m. EDT
Records: Brooklyn Nets (45-32, 21-17 road) at Boston Celtics (40-37, 27-12 home)
Betting Line: Celtics (-4) via OddsShark.com
Brooklyn Nets Injury Report
Keith Bogans, Tight Back, Questionable
Kris Humphries, Illness, Questionable
Joe Johnson, Quad & Heel Soreness, Questionable
Boston Celtics Injury Report
Rajon Rondo, Torn Right ACL, Out
Jared Sullinger, Back Surgery, Out
Key Storyline: The Final Battle
For the final time in 2012-13, the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets will go to war on the hardwood. We've already seen games marred by ejections, near-brawls and technical fouls.
So what are they going to do with their final battle upon us?
Injuries will make this one different, as Rajon Rondo is sidelined with a torn ACL and Kris Humphries is battling an illness. With that being said, these two teams always seem to be at odds when they play.
No matter how different the cast may look in Brooklyn.
This rivalry will be rekindled and the Celtics will be aiming to even the season series with this win. The Nets, meanwhile, are hoping to take one more step towards owning home-court advantage during the first round of the 2013 postseason.
The final battle should be as thrilling as the first three.
Key Matchup: Kevin Garnett vs. Brook Lopez
Kevin Garnett is one of the fiercest competitors and most influential defenders in the NBA today. Even when he's not blocking shots, KG always seems to find a way to agitate the opposition.
The question is, can Garnett slow down All-Star center Brook Lopez?
Lopez has been superb in 2012-13, leading all centers in scoring and Player Efficiency Rating. With that being said, he's averaging 16.0 points per game against the Celtics—3.2 points down from his season average.
Going up against a motivated Garnett won't make life any easier.
With Garnett on the floor in 2012-13, Lopez is averaging 14.5 points per 48 minutes. When Garnett is on the bench, however, Lopez's numbers jump to 28.1 points per 48.
X-Factor: Jordan Crawford, Boston Celtics
Since joining the Boston Celtics, Jordan Crawford has seen inconsistent playing time ranging between 15 and 30 minutes per night. This has been on par with his quality of play, as Crawford has appeared hesitant to play his style of game.
Boston will need him to be firing up shots if it's to defeat the Brooklyn Nets.
In Crawford's one game against Brooklyn in 2012-13, he finished with 23 points, six rebounds and two assists on 9-of-13 shooting. He also made 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, thus rounding out a magnificent performance.
While Boston would be blindly optimistic to expect a similar performance, Crawford is capable of putting up points in bunches.
Going up against the league's fifth-ranked scoring defense, points will be tough to come by. With the Nets likely to focus on the likes of Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, it's imperative that Crawford gets going.
Crawford's ability to spread the floor will be the difference.
The Boston Celtics are in need of a victory if they hope to move up in the Eastern Conference playoff structure. Fortunately, they're 27-12 at home and recently healthy with the return of Kevin Garnett.
Unfortunately, the Brooklyn Nets have the confidence of owning a victory at the TD Garden already—so how will this one play out?
The Nets are a confident group, as Deron Williams has finally hit his stride and the rest of the team is benefiting accordingly. Matched up against Avery Bradley, however, D-Will is likely to experience difficulties in getting a shot off clean.
Paul Pierce, Jeff Green and Boston's deep roster will do the rest.
The Celtics rarely lose a season series, let alone get swept at home. With the opportunity to make up for an earlier home loss to the Nets, Doc Rivers will have the Celtics primed and ready to fight back.
They're beginning to show signs of missing Rajon Rondo—Boston has lost 6-10 during its past 16 games—but the Celtics have the motivation to win this one.
Boston Celtics 98, Brooklyn Nets 94
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