Watch It! - Celtics at Nets

Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight night at the Barclays Center.

The Rondo-Bradley Combo

Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley give each other five

Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley combined for 32 points, 16 assists and 14 rebounds Wednesday night.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images

Wednesday night’s matchup between the Celtics and Heat featured a reunion of sorts. Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley started alongside each other for the first time since Feb. 9 and for just the seventh time since Jan. 25, 2013.

The duo played as if they had been alongside one another the entire time. Rondo and Bradley combined for 32 points, 16 assists and 14 rebounds as Boston downed Miami 101-96. Rondo led the game in assists with 15 helpers, while Bradley poured in a game-high 23 points.

“It seems to be a nice fit offensively,” Brad Stevens said after the game of Rondo and Bradley in the backcourt. “And then defensively they were both very active today and we need them to both be.”

The success of these two players is critical to Boston’s chances of winning games. They play well off of one another and can change the game at both ends of the floor.

Deron Williams is Rolling

One of the guys Rondo and Bradley will need to worry about tonight is Deron Williams. The three-time All-Star is beginning to look like his old self again.

Williams has led the game in scoring in each of Brooklyn’s last two contests. He scored 25 points against Charlotte on Wednesday and dropped 28 on the Suns Monday night. He shot a combined 19-of-28 (67.9 percent) from the field during those contests.

Boston struggled to contain the Nets point guard during these teams’ last machup on March 7. Williams scored 20 points to go along with four assists in about 36 minutes of action. The C’s are likely to call on Bradley, who missed the last meeting with an ankle injury, to be the man who attempts to slow Williams down this time around.

Green’s Defense on Johnson

Williams isn’t the only guy the Celtics need to worry about slowing down. Brooklyn has plenty of other weapons, including former Boston captain Paul Pierce, but Joe Johnson has always been a thorn in the C’s side.

Johnson scored a game-high 21 points against the Celtics on March 7 while shooting 9-of-21 from the field. He hit those numbers despite shooting just 1-of-7 from long range, meaning he was 8-of-14 from inside the arc.

The responsibility of defending Johnson will fall on the shoulders of Jeff Green. Green was given a break Wednesday night, as LeBron James did not play for Miami due to back spasms, so he should have plenty of energy to chase Johnson around.

Big Bench Advantage for C’s

Boston has another strong combo in addition to Rondo and Bradley. This one is in the frontcourt, and it comes off of the bench.

Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk have been playing fantastic basketball of late and combined for 24 points and nine boards off of the bench for Boston on Wednesday. They also combined for 29 points and 18 boards Monday night in Dallas.

The two big men should have an advantage against the Nets’ bench tonight. Brooklyn’s reserve big men are Andray Blatche, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Collins. Blatche and Kirilenko are both solid, but neither of them are known as great rebounders or for defending big men around the basket. Sullinger and Olynyk, who scored 18 points and grabbed 19 rebounds against Brooklyn during these teams’ last matchup, should have a strong advantage.

Nets are Living by the 3

Brooklyn has been the best team in the NBA since the calendar turned over to 2014. The Nets have gone 25-10 since Jan. 1, and 3-point shooting is the greatest reason why.

Jason Kidd’s offense has fired up an average of 24.2 3-pointers per game since the new year began. The Nets have been incredibly successful from long distance this month, having hit 41.3 percent of their attempts in March. The key cogs in Brooklyn’s 3-point shooting have been Pierce (47.5 percent), Johnson (43.4 percent), Marcus Thornton (43.1 percent) and Williams (42.3 percent), all of whom have made more than 40 percent of their 3s this month.