11/20 Game Preview Nets at Celtics
While the Boston Celtics hope their latest loss doesn't throw off their rhythm, the Brooklyn Nets are hopeful they are as close as they think to finding theirs.
The Celtics will try to bounce back Friday night when the struggling Nets visit TD Garden for the opener of a home-and-home set.
Boston (6-5) pieced together three straight impressive wins - at home against Atlanta and on the road versus Oklahoma City and Houston - before blowing an 18-point lead in a 106-102 home loss to Dallas on Wednesday.
The Celtics get a chance to regroup against the sputtering Nets (2-10), who will host the back end of this home-and-home set Sunday night. Boston won three of four meetings in last season's series.
"I think you've got to keep your foot on the pedal, man," Isaiah Thomas said. "The best teams just stay the course and play the same way for the most part and go from there."
Boston certainly knows how to step on the gas, as Thomas leads a team that plays at the league's fifth-fastest pace. The Celtics average 14.4 fast-break points and a league-high 23.6 off turnovers. The Nets have surrendered 13.6 fast-break points per game and 17.2 off turnovers.
Thomas has averaged 21.3 points and 7.5 assists in the last four games, but Avery Bradley might provide the Celtics their biggest boost off their bench.
Bradley started Boston's first six games but was forced to miss two straight while nursing a calf injury. He returned off the bench Sunday against the Thunder and scored 14 points, a performance that triggered a switch in coach Brad Stevens' rotation.
"We won and played the next night and felt pretty good about it," Stevens said.
Bradley matched his season high with 21 points against the Rockets on Monday before scoring 18 against the Mavericks - including 12 straight in a 1:43 span in the first quarter.
Bradley has averaged 20.2 points in his last five games against Brooklyn while making 55.4 percent of his shots and half of his 26 3-pointers.
The Nets have one win in their last 13 away from home, including the final two in the regular season and three more in the playoffs last spring. The Nets have wins over Houston and Atlanta in their last five, but allowed the other three to slip away.
Opportunities were there in the final two minutes of Wednesday's 116-111 loss at Charlotte, but the Nets couldn't grab hold of any. Thaddeus Young missed an easy putback that would have made it a one-possession game with 2:00 left, and Brooklyn couldn't capitalize on two late Charlotte turnovers.
"It could be a little fatigue, but there are no excuses for missed opportunities," said Young, who scored a season-high 27 points. "We had every chance to win that game and it slipped by us."
The light at the end of the tunnel is nearing for the Nets, who open the season with 11 of 16 on the road. Friday ends a span of six of seven away from Barclays Center, but after Sunday's stop in Brooklyn they'll visit Oklahoma City in Cleveland before a home-heavy stretch.