Tonight the Celtics were supposed to be in Brooklyn. An opportunity to fight their way to the two seed against a team that has been a thorn in their side this season. We won’t be seeing that game, or many games in the immediate future, so let’s look back at some of the Nets-C’s contests of note over the past few years. All time the Celtics hold the regular season advantage in head to head 130-69, but Brooklyn has the advantage in playoff games with a record of 8-2.
January 6th, 2018: This was a trap game for the Celtics, who were getting set to travel to London for a game against the 76ers at the conclusion of this one. This was an offensive struggle between these two teams, who each shot under 40% from the field. The Celtics didn’t have the services of Al Horford, but all the C’s needed in the final couple of minutes was Jason Tatum. With just over a minute to go, the then rookie Tatum took one to the basket. With just :45 seconds left he sank a three pointer, and that was just enough for the C’s who notched their 33rd win of the 2017-18 season. Brad Stevens said the number 3 pick in the 2017 draft has “never been scared of the moment” when talking about Tatum's performance in the final 90 seconds.
October 26th, 2016: This was Jaylen Brown’s first NBA game. He had 9 points and 2 blocks, but the number Celtics fans had in their minds was 23. With eight minutes to go the Celtics were up by 23, which led Brad Stevens to take his starters out. The Nets went on an 11-0 run before Stevens put his starters back in. After the contest Stevens said “I probably will be less likely to leave them in that long if we’re in a similar scenario.” Boston had 97 points through three quarters; but in the last 5:41 of the game the team could only muster six points.
While this was Jaylen Brown’s first NBA game, this was Al Horford’s first game as a Celtic and he had 11 points. Brooklyn wasn’t afraid to let it fly, with 44 3-point attempts, but in the end the IT led Celtics survive their first game of the season.
November 27th, 2019: This was the night where Celtics fans were supposed to have their chance to boo Kyrie Irving out of the building. However, the former Celtics point guard was out with an injury. The current Celtics point guard Kemba Walker was playing in his first game back after getting stretchered out following a head on collision with Semi Ojeleye. Walker went off, scoring a game high 39 points including 6-10 from the 3-point line. Jaylen Brown had 22 points and 10 boards in the win, but the story was the returning Walker, who had missed the previous five games. There was some concern about him coming back too soon, but to that point Walker said “If I'm on the court, I'm on the court. I wasn't thinking about anything (but) wanting to win."
While Boston fans were celebrating a win, their former guard Kyrie Irving released a lengthy statement that in part read “It’s one big show that means very VERY little in the real world that most people don’t live in. Don’t fall for the Game that’s played in front of you for Entertainment, it’ll never be as serious dealing with LIFE.” It might be safe to say the Celtics are winning the point guard swap?
Next season, the intensity between these two teams will pick up. Kevin Durant will debut after missing this season with an injury, but it could also be the first chance Celtics fans have to boo Kyrie with all their hearts.