Nets Gameday: Brooklyn begins stretch run against Celtics

After a week off, the Nets are back in action on Thursday against the Boston Celtics (7:30 p.m.). Brooklyn hits the ground running for their final 23 games of the year.

The Nets still won’t have their full lineup back on the court, as they wait for Kevin Durant to return, Ben Simmons to be ready and new addition Goran Dragic still needs a few practice days. However, the squad that will take the court did go 2-1 in the final three games before the NBA All-Star break and will look to come out of the break on a high note.

Brooklyn will come out of the break still in eighth in the Eastern Conference after a slump that coincided with the loss of Kevin Durant to injury and a drawn-out saga with James Harden that eventually saw the Nets trade him to Philadelphia. Following the trade, the Nets have seen a change in their demeanor and came away with two big wins over the Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks.

[READ: Kyrie Irving OK to play at Barclays Center in ‘coming weeks’ as NYC phases out vax mandate]

The additions of Seth Curry and Andre Drummond have helped the Nets stabilize some of their offensive issues and add a big presence down low. Cam Thomas has also stepped up his game, including leading Brooklyn to a comeback win over the Knicks at MSG.

“We’re in a really good place from a team standpoint right now,” Patty Mills told reporters during NBA All-Star Weekend. “The locker room is close, as close as it’s ever been this season and the things that we’ve been able to do off the court has really brought the group tighter together. The goal of what we’re trying to get to is clear and now that we add these pieces and get people back from injury it’s a determined, fire-burning hunger that we all have now.

“The importance for us to get away, have a break, enjoy some downtime with some family, but once we get back it’s pedal to the metal and we’re trying to get this thing done this year.”

The Celtics will present a formidable test out of the break for the Nets, who fell to Boston earlier this month at Barclays Center 129-108. Boston has won 11 of their last 13 games entering Thursday night’s game and jumped from 10th to sixth in the conference.

Nets Notables

The Nets are 11-1 this season when scoring 120+ points and 13-2 when shooting .500+ FG %. … LaMarcus Aldridge has averaged 13.8 ppg (.559 FG, .855 FT), 5.7 rpg and 1.1 bpg in 22.9 mpg. The Nets are 20-8 when he scores in double digits (6-1 when he scores 20+ points). … Blake Griffin is first in the league with 24 charges drawn (Kyle Lowry trails him with 22). He tied for the league lead last season (22).

Nets Injury Report

  • Goran Dragic (return to competition reconditioning) – Out
  •  Kevin Durant (left knee MCL sprain) — Out
  • Joe Harris (left ankle surgery) — Out
  • Kyrie Irving (ineligible to play) — Out
  • Ben Simmons (return to competition reconditioning) — Out

Celtics Injury Report

None

How To Watch

Thursday’s game will be nationally televised on TNT with Ian Eagle, Stan Van Gundy and Stephanie Ready calling the action. Brooklyn’s meeting with Boston will also be carried on WFAN 101.9 FM / 660 AM with Chris Carrino and Tim Capstraw on the call.

Nets Gameday: Brooklyn begins stretch run against Celtics