What should we expect now that the Brooklyn Nets have advanced out of the NBA's play-in tournament to face the Boston Celtics in what might be the most anticipated matchup of the playoffs' opening round?
Stuck in a play-in spot after going 5-16 during the 21 games that star Kevin Durant missed from Jan. 17 through March 1 with an MCL sprain, the Nets secured the No. 7 seed on Tuesday, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 115-108 behind a combined 59 points and 23 assists from Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Despite being in the play-in, the Nets have the second-best odds of winning the Eastern Conference according to lines from Caesars Sportsbook -- just ahead of the Celtics. While Brooklyn was tumbling down the East standings, Boston was surging from below .500 as recently as Jan. 21 to finish with the conference's second seed in the playoffs after winning Sunday's season finale to pass the Milwaukee Bucks in the standings.
Would Boston have been better off ducking Brooklyn? And just how good are these versions of the two teams with Durant and Irving healthy for the Nets and the Celtics without center Robert Williams III? The answers will determine which team advances.