One stoic difference in this year’s series between the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics will be that both teams are missing key players. For the Celtics, that key player is their big man Robert Williams who is an integral part of their defensive strategy. Nets starter Bruce Brown says that Williams’ absence will be an opportunity for Brooklyn to attack Celtics reserve centers Daniel Theis and Al Horford.
“We can’t let Tatum get 50. We’ve got to be physical with them,” Brown said of the Nets’ matchup with the Celtics per SNY. “Now they don’t have Robert Williams, so they have less of a presence in the paint. We can attack Al Horford and [Daniel] Theis”
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Jaylen Brown Responds to Bruce Brown’s Disrespectful Jab
While there likely was no malicious intent in Brown’s statement, it is easy to see how his comments could be perceived as disrespectful to Theis and Horford. Boston star Jaylen Brown says that the Celtics are not interested in engaging in a war of words with the Nets. Their response will be expressed through their play on the court.
“We respond with action,” Brown told reporters on April 14, per Yahoo Sports. “We’ll be ready to go on Sunday.”
Celtics head coach Ime Udoka also chimed in on Brown’s comments, saying that although one of the Celtics’ top defenders in Williams will be in street clothes, Theis and Horford are more than capable of holding their own.
“We still have two high-level defenders back there, big guys with Daniel (Theis) and Al (Horford). We have layers to our defense, so not it’s not like we’re getting blown by (on the perimeter), and Rob is protecting. We still have Marcus (Smart), Jaylen (Brown) and Jayson (Tatum), and everybody else in between,” Udoka told reporters per NBC Sports.
“We know how (Brown) scores and how he attacks in a lot of drive situations. We can take that away with how we want to guard it. They think it’s attack time because Rob’s out, but obviously, we’ve played quite a few games without him now and have been good enough and beat some good teams.”
Robert Williams Could Return for Celtics in Round 1
The irony in Bruce Brown’s statement is that although Williams is not expected to play Game 1, he could return at some point during the series, according to ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski.
“The possibility, I’m told, is very real that Robert Williams could return in this first-round series against the Nets. Game 6 would fall on just about one month from his left knee meniscus surgery back on March 30,” Wojnarowski said on the April 13 edition of “NBA Countdown” per NBC Sports.
“The thought from the very beginning was, because of the nature of this meniscus surgery, that he could be back even within that one-month timetable. He’s continued to progress, he’s met all his benchmarks so far, I’m told, and there’s a real possibility for Boston … he could be back to play against the Nets in the back end of this series.”
When the Nets face off with the Celtics in round one it will be a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the two division rivals, where the Nets gentlemen swept the Celtics 4-1. But just because the two teams are facing off in the first round again, doesn’t mean that it’s a guarantee that the results will be the same. The Nets will square off with the Celtics in Game 1 on April 17.