G68 Nets Seek to Surprise Isaiah-Less Celtics

G68LinMeloDespite the poor shooting night (5-16), Jeremy Lin showed why he is a difference-maker by leading the Nets to snap 33-road game losing streak against Eastern Conference teams by beating the Knicks 121-110. Lin finished with 15 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steal in 30 minutes, the longest he has played in 11 games after All-Star Break. Rondae-Hollis Jefferson played well to finish with 20 points, 11 rebounds. Brook Lopez finished with 24 points/6 rebounds.

Lin is making a believer out of many Nets fans by showcasing his ability to propel his teammates to play better outscoring the Knicks 38-26 in the 3rd quarter after being down 7 points in listless first half. After going 0-5 in 3-pt shooting (last one was a half-court heave at the end of 1st half), he hit 2 clutch 3-pt shots and another almost 3-pt shot (his foot stepped on the line) plus an And-1 being fouled by Ron Baker.

NetsDaily noted Lin’s ability as the difference-maker and Lin expressed his faith and leadership as the driving forces:

“I think for me it was, ‘how do you serve people, how do you love your teammates through this losing,’” Lin says of searching for positives during the team’s uphill battles. “This is the faith component that I’ve always known was important, but it made it even more important because all I really had was my voice, and what I said from the bench and what I said from the locker room. It forced me to challenge myself to being a better leader, better teammate and better servant in that area.”

Rondae shared Lin’s leadership impact after urging the Nets to stay positive despite their shooting struggles:

“Lin urged the Nets to stay positive at halftime despite their shooting struggles, and a few minutes later he helped guide them through a blistering stretch as Brooklyn blew by the Knicks. “I just think Jeremy is like the spokesperson for that when it comes to just positivity and light, just trying to make everything feel at ease,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “I feel like it’s phenomenal what he does. He just kind of rubs off on everybody.”

Nets vs Celtics Matchup

Even without Isaiah Thomas (right knee bone bruise), the Celtics will still be a dangerous playoff-caliber team and they have one-day rest advantage over the Nets. But it is comforting to know that the IT-less Celtics can be vulnerable with losing 3 out of 4 games with Marcus Smart as the starting PG in Dec 7-14 stretch. If the Nets can dig deep as a team, they might overcome the tired legs and surprise the Celtics at their own home court.

ESPN.com Preview:

Thomas has not been immune to missing time. He missed four games with a strained right groin Dec. 7-14 and the Celtics lost three times as Marcus Smart started at point guard.

During Thomas’ first absence, the Celtics averaged 102 points, shot 44.3 percent and made 32.8 percent from 3-point range. The schedule also was different as Boston lost close games to the Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder.

This time, the schedule appears to be in Boston’s favor, with two games against losing teams. The Celtics are 30-10 against losing teams after Thomas scored 27 points Wednesday in a 117-104 win over Minnesota.

KEY OF THE GAME: The Nets need to continue to keep their turnovers low, continue the great ball movement, and play well as a team. KJ McDaniels has played well in place of injured Sean Kilpatrick to attack the rim, rebound, and draw fouls. The 2nd unit will be key with continuing good plays from Quincy Acy and Isaiah Whitehead when Lin is out of the game for rests. Lin, Lopez, LeVert have become such a force to close out the 4th quarters and their leadership will be needed to surprise the Celtics.

Let’s hope and pray JLin will continue getting stronger and lead the Nets to win more games!

Let’s go, JLin and the Nets! 


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