ESPN’s Wednesday night double header is an injury filled slate tonight.
First, the Kevin Durant-less Brooklyn Nets will head to Boston to take on the Eastern Conference’s best in the Celtics.
Then, the late night battle will be between the banged up Phoenix Suns without Devin Booker hosting the Atlanta Hawks who might not be injured, but have had their own fair share of dysfunction.
Let’s dive in.
Brooklyn Nets vs Boston Celtics
Thursday, 1/20 at 5:30pm MST on ESPN in Boston
All season long, the Celtics have been the best the East has to offer and now, with a record of 36-15 and a net rating of +5.7 — the league leader in both — there is no one to argue they do not belong among the league’s elites.
For the Celtics, they will be without Marcus Smart who is working through a right ankle sprain. Robert Williams III is also on the report as questionable with a left ankle sprain. The only other player on the report who is not in the G-League is Danilo Gallinari who is still out after tearing his ACL in his left knee.
So, against a mostly healthy Celtics team, can the banged up Nets keep up? They are 31-19 after 50 games and sit at fourth in the Eastern Conference, but even with that being said, they are 4-6 in their last 10 games as they deal with a swath of players on the bench with different ailments.
For the Nets, they will continue to be without Kevin Durant who is still working his way back from an MCL sprain in his right knee. Ben Simmons will also miss this ESPN showdown with left knee soreness. T.J. Warren also will be out as he deals with a left shin contusion. Lastly, Yuta Watanabe is probable to play despite back tightness.
- With how decimated by injuries the Nets are, they are nine-point underdogs on the road against the Celtics according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
- The over/under of 224 at DraftKings Sportbook feels light even if Kevin Durant is out of the game.
Atlanta Hawks vs Phoenix Suns
Thursday, 1/5 at 8pm MST on ESPN in Phoenix
The Hawks have had internal issues all season long from the reports coming out over the past few months, but as those chaotic circumstances have calmed, the team has found a semblance of functionality. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games and sit as the eighth seed in the East at 25-26. Of course no one is jumping for joy at the prospect of being average — the Hawks are 14th in offense, 20th in defense and 23rd in net rating on the season in addition to their near .500 record — but they are getting closer to the team they hoped they could be and sit just three losses out of the sixth seed in the East. They still have a path out of the play-in tournament.
The Hawks are coming into the game with a nearly clean injury report. Outside of Trae Young who is probable to play with right ankle soreness, the only two names on the report are Tyrese Martin and Donovan Williams who are both in the G-League.
On the other hand, the Suns have fallen from near the top of the West to the seventh seed after a tough stretch of injuries. They are 27-25 and sit among the other nine teams with total losses between 24-26 so their hopes for a productive regular season are far from lost.
The Suns are still going through it when it comes to injuries. They will be without Devin Booker once gain with his left groin strain. Landry Shamet is also out with right foot soreness while Cameron Payne is also still out with a right foot sprain. Josh Okogie will play despite a nasal fracture.
- Somehow, despite being without Booker, Shamet, and Payne, the Suns are still one-point favorites at home against the Hawks.
- Also, despite the Suns being down so many players and the Hawks general dysfunction, the over/under of 232.5 feels bloated.
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