Boston Celtics

Celtics Vs. Nets Series Is One That's Years in the Making

The blockbuster trade between the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets in 2013 set in motion a timeline of 'what ifs' and conclusions that led to their showdown in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

C's-Nets series is one that's years in the making originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

It's only fitting that the Boston Celtics' first-round opponent in the 2021 NBA playoffs is the Brooklyn Nets.

The two franchises have been connected since the blockbuster 2013 trade that sent Celtics greats Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn. In the deal, Boston acquired three unprotected first-round draft picks and a pick swap. Little did we know just how much the trade would impact both teams for the next decade.

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The first major domino fell during the 2016 NBA Draft, when the Celtics used one of their Nets picks to select Jaylen Brown at No. 3 overall. Since then, Brown has blossomed into an All-Star and arguably the most important player in the C's lineup.

They used another Nets pick in 2017, when they traded down from No. 1 to No. 2 overall and selected Jayson Tatum. So thanks to Brooklyn, the Celtics were able to form one of the most formidable duos in the NBA with Brown and Tatum.

The final Nets pick acquired by the C's in 2013 was used to acquire Kyrie Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2017 offseason. That deal didn't work out in Boston's favor. Irving played well during his two-year Celtics tenure, but he failed to build chemistry with the C's young stars and spurned Boston in favor of Brooklyn in free agency.

Another Nets superstar, Kevin Durant, turned down the C's as a free agent in the summer of 2016. Durant reportedly narrowed down his options to the Celtics and Warriors before signing with Golden State.

"I met with them and they were really good," Durant said after joining the Warriors. "I was really impressed by them. The city of Boston is one of the best cities in the league. I really respect how they approach the game, how they play the game."

The connections don't end there.

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The Celtics were rumored to be one of James Harden's preferred destinations before the Houston Rockets sent the nine-time All-Star to the Nets earlier this season. And outside the "Big Three" of Irving, Durant and Harden, Jeff Green is another notable connection as the ex-Celtic enjoyed one of the best shooting seasons of his career in Brooklyn.

All of these events over the last eight years have led us to a first-round playoff series loaded with connections and interesting storylines. The second-seeded Nets enter as overwhelming favorites, but there's no doubt the No. 7 seed Celtics will embrace the underdog role. Tatum and Kemba Walker will be leaned on heavily as Brown will miss the entire postseason after undergoing wrist surgery.

Game 1 of Celtics vs. Nets is set for Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.

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