Nets Look to Keep Win Streak Gong Against the Bucks, Celtics Will Try for a Denver WinBy Debbie B.
The NBA returns to action on Tuesday after the All-Star break. There’s a full slate of games and from the Atlantic division, the Brooklyn Nets (31-22) will play the Milwaukee Bucks (26-25). They having a two-game win streak going and sit 2.5 games behind the conference-leading New York Knicks (32-18).
The Boston Celtics (28-24) will play the Denver Nuggets (33-21) who are trying to snap a three-game losing streak. The Celtics are rumored to be exploring a trade for the Atlanta Hawks Josh Smith. It will not include Kevin Garnett, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, but it does it mean that Paul Pierce would go? Not likely.
Other rumored Celtics personnel includes Brandon Bass and Jeff Green, according to ProBasketballTalk.com. The trade deadline is Thursday and the Celtics are one of many teams allegedly interested in Smith.
Brooklyn vs. Milwaukee
The Bucks entered the All-Star break with a six of seven loss record but sit in the eighth spot for the Eastern Conference.
The team’s leading scorer is Brandon Jennings, who has averaged 28.8 per game; he is 16 for 27 (59.3 percent) from beyond the arc over his previous four games.
Lately the team has found success with Ersan Ilyasova. In its 94-92 win over the Philadelphia 76ers last Wednesday, he only had seven points but in his last 13 games, has averaged 17.5 per game and for 3-pointers, has shot 51.5 percent (26 of 46).
Ilyasova plays well against the Nets, averaging 16.2 points (56.2 percent) from the field over his last nine games against them and 10.4 rebounds. In the team’s last meeting on Dec. 26, he had 17 points and 11 rebounds.
For the Nets, Deron Williams returned to practice on Monday after missing time from ankle problems. He will be in the lineup for Tuesday’s game but his coach P.J. Carlesimo is unsure about his availability for this series’ games. He said on Monday via The New York Times,”I have no expectations, honestly. I wasn’t sure if he was going to practice today. Whatever they say is fine. If he can play, great. If he can’t, that’s O.K.”
In his place, C.J. Watson has started and Brook Lopez had 21 points and 10 rebounds in the last game against Milwaukee.
The Bucks own the Nets as they’ve won 13 consecutive games (seven on the road) with a 15.3-point average but this will end on Tuesday with a Nets win (-4, 194.5 o/u).
Celtics vs. Denver
In the teams’ Feb. 10 meeting, the Celtics won 118-114 in triple OT. They entered the halftime break with eight of nine wins including victories over the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Chicago Bulls.
Over his last 10 games, Garnett has averaged 17.7 points with 10.2 rebounds. In his most recent one, the player contributed 20 points with 18 rebounds and six assists for a season-high playing time of 47 minutes.
Garnett said of Tuesday’s game via ESPN, “Mentally you have to be ready for Denver. Their pace is incredible, especially when they’re at home. They’re 22-3 at home.”
Pierce has also been playing well and in his last four games, has averaged 22.0 points, including a triple-double in the win against the Bulls last week (27 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists).
For Denver, no players went to Houston so they’ll be ready to go after their break. They will try to avoid four straight losses as they have played without their leading scorer lately, Danilo Gallinari (illness). Other top scorer Andre Iguodala (neck) was absent for the team’s previous two games.
In his seven prior games, Gallinari had been averaging 20.9 points per game.
During their absences, Ty Lawson has stepped up in the last three games, averaging 28.0 points, 9.0 assists and a 62.3 percent shooting (9 of 14) for 3-pointers.
Boston doesn’t play well in Denver–losing three straight there–and will see this trend continue with a Denver win (-8, 203 o/u) on Tuesday.