By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Celtics won’t have to wait until Christmas to get their first look at the Nets’ Kyrie Irving-Kevin Durant combo, as both players are expected to be in action for Friday’s preseason finale at TD Garden.
Signing with Brooklyn in 2019, the Nets got zero games from Durant in 2019-20 due to an Achilles injury, while a shoulder ailment limited Irving to just 20 games before undergoing season-ending surgery.
That didn’t stop the tandem from looking strong in their 2020 preseason debut earlier this week, combining for 33 of Brooklyn’s 119 points in a win over the Wizards. That, with DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie still in the mix as potentially key roleplayers for first-year coach Steve Nash, makes the Nets a more dangerous team than the Celtics have ever seen in the Brad Stevens Era.
“For us, it’s going to take a full team effort,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. “Not just on Kyrie, but Kevin as well, and the rest of those guys. They’ve got their confidence. They’re playing really good. They’ve got some really good players around those guys to help them out. So it’s going to take every last one of us.”
Step one for the Celtics will be getting a better start from their top two talents, as Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum struggled in their preseason debut earlier this week, combining for just 15 points on 5-for-24 shooting in a 108-99 loss to the Sixers.
The Celtics will also get a boost in their frontcourt, too, with center Daniel Theis removed from the injury report after missing Tuesday’s head-to-head with the Sixers due to a sore back. Theis, who started 64 games at center last year, set career-highs in points (9.2), rebounds (6.6), blocks (1.3), and assists (1.7) per game in 2019-20.
The Celtics will, however, remain without center Tristan Thompson (hamstring), though it sounds as if Thompson is beginning to make real progress towards a return. Guards Kemba Walker and Romeo Langford (wrist) also remain out of action.
Tipoff is at 8 p.m., and the game can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub.