The Boston Celtics rode Jayson Tatum‘s 50-point outburst in the play-in round against the Washington Wizards, notching the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. They’ll face the Brooklyn Nets, perhaps the team with the highest ceiling in the entire NBA.
The Nets remain a bit of an unknown. Their three stars—Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden—have only played eight games together. This last bunch featured a recovering Harden, and the team was without sharpshooter Joe Harris.
There are plenty of questions about experience and chemistry, and the defense has looked shoddy at times. If the Nets get rolling on offense though, there may be no stopping them. Even teams that slice through their porous defense may have to hang 130 to pull out a win.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens is among those who question if anyone can take down Brooklyn this postseason. “They’re the best of the best,” Stevens admitted, after the play-in win against Washington. “It’s hard to see those guys losing.”
Brad Stevens: "We'll do our best to get ready for Brooklyn. They're the best of the best. As a fan of the NBA, it's hard to see those guys losing. We're going to have to play great and play great together."
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) May 19, 2021
It is a surprising admission from a coach about the team he is about to face in a seven game series. The Nets were 3-0 against the Celtics this year, winning by an average of 15 points.
Brad Stevens may have been honest, but former Celtics big man Kendrick Perkins, a member of the franchise’s last NBA Championship team, is not happy with the quote at all. He ripped Stevens hard during an appearance on First Take.
“Brad Stevens, if you love Brooklyn that much, why don’t you go coach them? Go join the coaching staff,” Perkins said. “Listen, I played for the Boston Celtics for eight-and-a-half years. I know the definition of ‘the City of Champions.’ They have something called Celtic pride. That wasn’t Celtic pride.
“And no, I wouldn’t want to play with Brad Stevens. How can I go to war with a coach that is praising and glorifying an opponent that I possibly could upset? How about saying ‘Hey, we’re going to be prepared, we’re going to be ready. I know you’re crowning them, but I got enough, and we’re going to come to compete.’ How about saying that, Brad Stevens. I mean, god damn. (Celtics owner) Wyc Grousbeck, (managing partner) Steve Pagliuca, (president of basketball operations) Danny Ainge, my guys, this is what we’ve come to?”
Perkins said that he tried to warm to Stevens, who he sees as a good “X’s and O’s” coach, but he called his comments about the Brooklyn Nets “disturbing.” He’s clearly out on Stevens’ coaching tenure.
Game 1 of the Boston Celtics’ series against the Brooklyn Nets tips off at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday night at the Barclays Center.