The groups are technically the similar, and so are the high three gamers — Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving for the Nets, Jayson Tatum for the Celtics — as the franchises face off in the opening spherical of the NBA playoffs for the second straight season.
Otherwise, the whole lot is different about the best-of-seven, first-round sequence between the second-seeded Celtics and seventh-seeded Nets that may start Sunday afternoon in Boston.
A year in the past, the Nets had been the heavy favorites, the second seed with title hopes. This year, the Celtics are seeded second and anticipated to advance with home-court benefit.
The respective rosters — notably Boston’s — are nothing like these from final season. For one, standout wing/ahead Jaylen Brown is wholesome for the Celtics after lacking the sequence a year in the past. Boston’s coach, Ime Udoka, was Steve Nash’s high assistant in Brooklyn final season.
Boston traded Kemba Walker and allowed Evan Fournier to depart through free company after the five-game sequence loss to the Nets. The Celtics added beginning heart Al Horford in the offseason and bought well-rounded guard Derrick White and depth ahead Daniel Theis from the Spurs at the commerce deadline.
The outcome was an unexpectedly sturdy season for the Atlantic Division champions. The Celtics personal the greatest document (17-5) in the NBA since the All-Star break, are 28-7 relationship to Jan. 21 and completed the season No. 1 in the NBA in defensive ranking and ninth offensively.
The Celtics, it ought to be famous, are anticipated to be with out huge man Robert Williams III, their main rebounder and shot-blocker, who suffered a torn left meniscus in late March. But they did win 4 of their closing 5 video games with out him.
The Nets are also very different, except for the huge two of Durant and Irving. Sharpshooter Joe Harris appeared in simply 14 video games earlier than present process two surgical procedures on his left ankle and is out for the season. James Harden was traded to the 76ers on Feb. 10. The present roster contains a variety of key newcomers, reminiscent of Patty Mills, Andre Drummond and Seth Curry.
Unlike the Celtics’ modifications, although, the Nets’ turnover didn’t equate to a greater common season. The Nets went 44-38, a significant drop from their 48-24 document in 2020-21. Durant missed 27 video games principally as a consequence of a knee damage, nonetheless, and Irving solely appeared in 29 video games as a consequence of his refusal to satisfy the New York City COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which barred him from enjoying in house video games till only recently. The Nets had been 33-19 when Durant was in the lineup and 12-6 when Irving joined him.
Durant and Irving might be collectively, barring damage, for the entirety of this sequence — considered one of the few constants from the opening-round sequence final spring.