Kevin Durant on Nets vs. Celtics Series: 'We Can Be Beat If We Don't Lock In'May 19, 2021
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.
Durant also noted that he isn't concerned about the Nets being considered NBA title favorites either.
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.
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