Kevin Durant on Nets vs. Celtics Series: 'We Can Be Beat If We Don't Lock In'

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIMay 19, 2021

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 16: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Barclays Center on May 16, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. 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 Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets are favored to defeat the shorthanded Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs, but Nets forward Kevin Durant isn't taking the C's lightly.

Malika Andrews @malika_andrews

Kevin Durant said that despite being the higher seed, the Nets aren't looking at the Celtics as an easy out. "We respect the game and our opponents too much to come in and say we’re expected to win this." Durant adds: "We can be beat if we don't lock in."

Durant also noted that he isn't concerned about the Nets being considered NBA title favorites either.

Nets Videos @SNYNets

Kevin Durant doesn't concern himself with the Nets being viewed as the title favorites<br><br>"Us players don't think about stuff like that. We know that's y'all job and that's how y'all view stuff. We know how tough it is to play this game every day" pic.twitter.com/DYmGRIR3ts

The 48-24 Nets earned the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs despite missing Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden for extended stretches this season because of injuries, personal reasons and/or the league's health and safety protocols.

The 36-36 Celtics qualified as the No. 7 seed after Jayson Tatum scored 50 points against the Washington Wizards in their play-in game on Wednesday.

However, the C's will be without All-Star Jaylen Brown due to a season-ending torn scapholunate ligament in his left wrist.

The Celtics are 7-1 underdogs to beat the Nets in the first round, per DraftKings Sportsbook. Brooklyn also tops the NBA champion ledger at 5-2.

The Nets' road to the NBA Finals wouldn't be easy.

The Celtics may be without Brown, but Tatum is a superstar more than capable of putting the team on his back. If Kemba Walker plays like he did Wednesday (29 points), then that duo is going to be a problem.

A potential second-round date with reigning back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks potentially looms, although that team has to face the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat. Either team could be a tough matchup for the Nets.

The first-place Philadelphia 76ers, featuring MVP candidate Joel Embiid, are the most likely team to emerge from the other side of the Eastern Conference bracket. Embiid has been a dominant force this season, averaging 28.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.

But the Nets are likely better than their 48-24 record implies. The Irving-Harden-Durant combination has started just eight games together, with the team going 6-1.

All three of them are good to go for the playoffs, though, which helps put the Nets in position for its first-ever NBA title.

Game 1 of the Celtics vs. Nets series will take place on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL).

Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (CO), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), or call or text the TN REDLINE: 800-889-9789 (TN).

21+. NJ/PA/WV/IN/IA/CO/IL/TN only. In partnership with Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.