Nets vs. Celtics: Brooklyn Brings Momentum to Face Boston

After winning two straight, the Brooklyn Nets face the Boston Celtics Wednesday night on the second half of the lone back-to-back of their eight-game NBA restart schedule.

The Nets shored up some playoff position with Sunday’s win against Washington, then went out shorthanded against Milwaukee on Tuesday afternoon and stunned the squad with the NBA’s best record while playing without Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen — not to mention Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince and more who did not make it to Orlando to complete the season.

Brooklyn came into the restart six games ahead of Washington, and that lead is now eight with five to play and the Wizards needing to get within four games to force a play-in for the eighth seed.

“I think overall, we’ll try to keep things in perspective,” said head coach Jacque Vaughn after Tuesday’s win. “Same conversation we had after our first scrimmage here. It will carry through that each day, we’ll take it, process it, see what happens, and reload and do it again. We won’t complicate this thing. Hopefully, more discipline to do that. Just doing simple a little bit better and overall, it feels good for the group. Hopefully we’ll be able to rest up those other three and those other three will be available tomorrow.”

The Nets put up 73 points in the first half against the team with the league’s best defense. While the Bucks held out former Nets center Brook Lopez from the start, they played Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton in first half before sitting them down for the rest of the game.

“It's very big for us,” said Garrett Temple of the win and the first-half performance. “The fact that we were winning with their group, without Brook (Lopez) obviously, without Wes (Matthews), but they had a group that has won a lot of games. We were winning in the first half. Giannis looked like he was out there working out at halftime expecting to go in so whatever happened, we won the game with the people we had against the people they had and they played so. This is very big for our confidence. We may see them in the first round so we were coming in looking to make a statement.”


With his career-high 26 points against Milwaukee on Tuesday, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot has two 20-point games in Brooklyn’s three games in Orlando. After starting all three scrimmage games at the 4 spot, Luwawu-Cabarrot came off the bench in the Nets’ first two games. With Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen out on Tuesday, Jacque Vaughn moved him back into the starting lineup at the 3.

“We were really trying to get our fingerprint on when we were going to insert him into the lineup,” said Jacque Vaughn. “Was it going to be starting? Was it going to be coming off the bench? Hopefully we found a sweet spot for him, seems like he’s in a good rhythm. We’ll continue to put him in positions where he can take advantage of his speed and his shooting ability.”

Luwawu-Cabarrot made 5-of-7 3-pointers and shot 8-of-12 overall against Milwaukee. Without LeVert, Harris, and Allen, the Nets needed scoring. While the Bucks have the NBA’s strongest defense, they don’t mind surrendering 3-point attempts, preferring to focus on protecting the paint. It was open season for Luwawu-Cabarrot, who has been getting open looks from beyond the arc since the scrimmage schedule started. His back-to-back 3-pointers with just under three minutes to go lifted the Nets into the lead for good.

“Obviously we didn’t have our best scorers out there, so obviously it’s an opportunity for everybody coming up, and next man up mentality,” said Luwawu-Cabarrot. “I just let the game come at me and didn’t force anything. So it was a good opportunity for me and for the guys.”


Down by three points to the Brooklyn Nets in the final seconds on Tuesday, the Milwaukee Bucks never even got a shot off. Jeremiah Martin poked the ball away from Donte DiVincenzo, and by the time DiVincenzo recovered the rock, the game was over. Martin played 19 minutes for the Nets and made his presence felt throughout.

“Jeremiah was a great defender tonight,” said Chris Chiozza. “He’s done that every time he gets a chance to play. He’s one of our better defenders. He’s known as a defender. He just comes with a different energy and a different mentality than a lot of guys in the league. He takes pride in the defensive end and that’s why we like him. Smart player. He really came in and set the tone, got charges, got some strips and got us out in the open court and we capitalized on that.”

In addition to Martin, the shorthanded Nets turned to rookie big man Donta Hall against the Bucks. Neither had played in Sunday’s win against Washington. Hall had nine rebounds, four points and two blocks in 21 minutes.

“You like seeing that,” said Jacque Vaughn. “I loved Donta’s energy tonight. He gave us some force without having Jarrett Allen available tonight. I think it’s extremely important to have a very competitive and gritty and a tough approach. We talk about dictating and being aggressive. All those things were needed tonight. It was great to see it from this group.”


For the second time in three games, the Nets had 30 assists on Tuesday against Milwaukee. Ten of them belonged to Chris Chiozza, and that was a career-high.

“You talk about toughness and gritty, he brings that,” said Jacque Vaughn. “His ability to impact the game with just his speed gives us the opportunity to get down the floor faster. I think overall, he’s been playing with some more toughness. We’re OK with that. Whether that’s getting on the floor, you’ve seen him do that. Whether that’s going back in as a small and rebounding. Great effort by him tonight, and he’s been a joy, just spraying that ball around and some good looks because he created them tonight.”


When Jamal Crawford entered Tuesday’s game in the first quarter, making his Nets debut, he became the eighth player in NBA history to play in 20 different seasons. But Crawford’s game ended quickly as he left early in the second quarter after playing six minutes.

“The information I got, these are quick turnarounds after the game, was strained left hamstring,” said Jacque Vaughn. “We’ll get him diagnosed to see what happens from there. I’m telling you, I love having him around and it was awesome to see him on the floor tonight and look forward to him being on the floor again.”


It’s not uncommon for NBA teams to cross paths on the road during the season, one coming in and one going out of a particular hotel. Staying together on the NBA Campus is a different story, and the Nets took advantage by chatting up the Houston Rockets, who had beaten the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.

The two teams are staying at the same hotel, and players got to talking by the pool. Keep shooting those threes, the Rockets told Chris Chiozza. And there was more.

“We told them we're playing Milwaukee and asked them for things that they did so they beat them and obviously they're very undersized and they gave us a few tips and we took that to heart,” said Temple. “I think our pace offensively, the way we shared the ball and that group two really helped us get settled on the defensive end to get enough stops to win.”


The Celtics were 44-22 and in third place in the Eastern Conference going into Tuesday night’s game against Miami. The possibility of a Brooklyn/Boston first-round playoff series is technically alive, but unlikely. Both teams would have to move up a spot each in the standings to create a No. 2 vs. No. 7 matchup. The Nets have won two of the first three matchups, with the latest the 129-120 overtime win in Boston as Caris LeVert put up 51 points and led a fourth-quarter comeback. Previously, the teams split home wins sandwiched around Thanksgiving Day. Boston is fourth in the NBA in offensive rating (112.5), fifth in defensive rating (106.6) and fifth in net rating (5.9). Jayson Tatum leads the Celtics with 23.4 points per game, shooting 39.8 percent from 3-point range, with 7.0 rebounds per game. Jaylen Brown is averaging 20.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and shooting 38.8 percent from 3-point range. Kemba Walker is averaging 21.0 points, 4.8 assists, and 4.0 rebounds.