Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets: X-factors, key matchups, and a prediction

Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant Kyrie Irving (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant Kyrie Irving (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /
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Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /

Celtics vs. Nets: Key matchups

Jayson Tatum vs. Kevin Durant 

Jayson Tatum’s career, like Kevin Durant, began to blossom at a very young age. Though he hasn’t won a scoring title yet, while Durant had won two in his first four seasons, Tatum has had more playoff success than Durant had four years ago.

This regular season he was out due to health and safety protocol, and the team fell off a cliff after nearly making the NBA Finals in the bubble. After dropping a 50 piece to seal the 7th seed, he should be riding high.

Durant had one of the most effective scoring seasons to date but struggled to remain healthy. He also likely wants to prove he’s still near the same defensive player he was with the Golden State Warriors. Look for him and Tatum to spend lots of time guarding one another on the wing and in the post.

Marcus Smart vs. The World

The second key matchup in this series will be Marcus Smart vs. the World! Smart has been one of the best defenders in the league for almost his whole career. He’s strong enough to hang with big guards like Harden, crafty enough to chase Kyrie Irving and Joe Harris, and stout and tenacious enough to guard Durant almost as well as Tony Allen used to for the Grizzlies.

But there’s only one of him. Expect him to lead all Celtics besides Tatum in minutes.