How the Boston Celtics Can Beat the Brookyln Nets

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Quite frankly, I'm not sure they can.  If the Brooklyn Nets are at full strength - and with the recent return of James Harden, they seem to be - I'm not sure anybody can beat them.  Even with Jaylen Brown in the picture, I think Boston would have a difficult time beating this team four times in seven tries.

Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

However, if there's a scenario in which the Celtics pull off this upset, we saw a glimpse of how it has to go down this past Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards.  I'm not saying Jayson Tatum has to put up 50 points every night - though that would certainly help - but he has to be special.

Let's take a trip back to the 2006-07 NBA season for some inspiration.  In his fourth season in the league, LeBron James carried a pretty lackluster Cleveland Cavaliers team to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they would meet a far superior Detroit Pistons team. 

This was a Pistons team that was in their fifth consecutive Eastern Conference Finals.  A Pistons team that had made the NBA Finals in two of the previous three seasons, winning one of them.  A Pistons team that had beat the Cavs three out of four times in the regular season, and won the first two games of the Conference Finals putting James and the Cavs in a 2-0 hole.  Then LeBron woke up.

In the next four games, all wins, Lebron averaged 31 points, ten rebounds, and nine assists; including a 48 point outburst in Game 5.  The supporting cast chipped in when needed - Daniel Gibson had a big Game 6 - but it was all about LeBron. 

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Look, I know Lebron is LeBron and Tatum is not, but I use that example just as an illustration as to what it will take for Boston to get past Brooklyn.  It starts and ends with Tatum.

He has to shoulder the load.  Yes, he won't be able to do it all by himself.  Much like Kemba Walker did with his 29 points on Tuesday, other guys will need to chip in along the way.  Maybe it's Walker one night, Evan Fournier another night, Marcus Smart the next.  Heck, maybe Payton Pritchard if Brad Stevens gives him the opportunity. 

The support from those guys will be important, but their support will be irrelevant if Tatum is not at his best.  If he has one of his off nights that he has had on occasion this season, the Celtics won't be able to overcome that against a team like the Nets.

Tatum probably has to score somewhere in the 30's each night, efficiently I might add, and stuff the rest of the stat sheet with some rebounds and assists.  And to be perfectly honest, that still may not be good enough to beat the Nets, that's how good this team is.

In their last meeting, a 109-104 Nets victory, Tatum poured in 38 while shooting better than 50% from the field.  Pritchard chipped in 22 and Smart had 19, but it still wasn't enough.  Oh, and Kevin Durant and James Harden didn't even play.  This Nets team is loaded. 

The Celtics will have to do a bunch of things to pull off this upset: be physical, defend well, limit turnovers, etc.  I'm aware of that.  However, at the top of that list is Tatum.  If he isn't at the top of his game, the rest of it doesn't matter.


Follow Derek on Twitter @mcvay34.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: How the Boston Celtics Can Beat the Brookyln Nets
How the Boston Celtics Can Beat the Brookyln Nets
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