Nets Starter Blasts Celtics, Says Frontcourt Can Be Easily Targeted

Daniel Theis of the Boston Celtics guarding Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets

Getty Daniel Theis of the Boston Celtics guarding Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets.

The NBA Play-In Tournament provides a new, unique chance for teams to earn their way into the postseason. For the past few years, it’s caused a fair share of controversies, but also given fans a viewing experience similar to one they would get when watching March Madness. This one-and-done style of play makes for the perfect mix of drama and quality basketball.

This year, the Brooklyn Nets found themselves stuck in the Play-In despite having lofty expectations thrust on them at the beginning of the season. In the end, however, the Nets came out on top, taking down the Cleveland Cavaliers. This means that they will take on the two-seeded Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

Boston finished the season with a 51-31 record thanks to a miraculous mid-season turnaround after a shaky start to the year. They ended the year with the best defense in the NBA, and since January 1, they hold the best net rating in the league by a landslide. However, they’ll be heading into the postseason with one key player missing.

Robert Williams is out with a torn meniscus, and it’s reported that he will likely miss the entirety of the first round. Williams has been the defensive anchor for Boston all year long. His absence was enough to trigger some interesting postgame comments from Nets starter Bruce Brown after Brooklyn’s win over the Cavaliers.

Brown Says Nets Can Attack Celtics Easier

After Brooklyn’s win, Brown was asked about what the biggest key will be to slow down the Celtics. Immediately, Brown pointed to Jayson Tatum, saying that the Nets can’t let him score 50 again. But after that, he looked at the absence of Williams. With Williams out, Brown said that the Nets will be able to attack the paint easier, targeting Boston’s two big men in the process:

Now they don’t have Robert Williams. So, they have less of a presence in the paint and we can attack Al Horford and [Daniel] Theis. So, them not having Rob Robert Williams is huge.

Bruce Brown Says Nets Can Attack Theis & Horford in Paint With No Rob Williams | Nets PostgameBROOKLYN, NY — Bruce Brown spoke to the media after the Nets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 115-108 on Tuesday night in the play-in opener. Brown spoke about the Celtics and how the Nets matchup with them. Brown on the Celtics: "Them not having Robert Williams is huge. We can attack Theis and Horford in the…2022-04-13T03:19:04Z

Since Williams’ injury, head coach Ime Udoka has turned to the frontcourt duo of Al Horford and Daniel Theis. The pair have been starting together, when healthy, down the stretch of the season.

Brown’s thoughts weren’t echoed by some of his teammates, however. When Kevin Durant took to the podium, he actually went back on what Brown said, letting reporters know that “them two dudes can do the same stuff. They ain’t gonna be that easy, I’ll tell you that.”

He said that the Nets “respect our opponents” and that they “don’t need to talk about what we’re going to do to them.” Durant also said “that’s how Bruce is,” noting that the young forward likes to “keep the same energy” all season long.

Horford and Theis Have Been Defensive Stalwarts

After the Celtics’ practice on April 13, Udoka got the chance to speak to the media. He was asked about Brown’s comments and responded by saying that “we still have two high-level defenders back there.” Since Williams went down on March 27, Horford and Theis have been able to hold it down.

The two have appeared in five games together since then, sharing the court for 65 minutes throughout those appearances. While they’ve been on the floor together, opponents have shot just 42.2 percent from the field and 29.2 percent from the field. They hold a defensive rating of 96.4 together as a duo in that timespan.

Based on the numbers, it’s safe to say that Horford and Theis have done a solid job of holding down the fort in Williams’ absence. If they can continue to defend at the level they have since Williams’ injury, then the Brown and the Nets could be in for a rude awakening.

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