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Kevin Durant insists Nets aren’t overlooking Celtics: ‘We can be beat’

The Brooklyn Nets enter a first-round playoff series with the Boston Celtics as overwhelming favorites to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Most analysts, pundits and insiders aren’t giving the Celtics much of a chance against a Nets team led by the Big Three of James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, though the latter of Brooklyn’s formidable trio begs to differ with such a gloomy assessment of Boston’s prospects.

Durant conducted a Zoom conference call Wednesday during which the superstar suggested that the Nets don’t view themselves as favorites in their series with the Celtics.

“Players don’t think about stuff like that,” Durant said, via Forbes. “We know how tough it is to play this game every day and we’re in here every day so we got a different vantage point than you all. So I understand the stuff on paper and how teams look and how accomplished the players on our team are, but for us we respect the game and our opponents too much to come in and say we’re expected to win this.

“Nah, we’re coming out there and understanding that we can be beat if we don’t lock in.”

Harden echoed Durant’s remarks when discussing a Celtics team left undermanned with the absence of Jaylen Brown.

“Just because Jaylen Brown’s out, we don’t take this team light at all,” Harden said. “They’re very well coached and they got Kemba [Walker] and JT can get going. So we gotta be prepared, we gotta pay attention to the details, lock in on both ends of the ball, which we will.

“We don’t take this team light at all.”

The Celtics impressed in Tuesday’s 118-100 victory over the Washington Wizards in the NBA play-in tournament to secure the No. 7 seed and a difficult showdown with the second-seeded Nets. Jayson Tatum led the way with 50 points.

Durant went on to add in his comments that the Nets “respect” the Celtics.

Despite entering as the No. 2 seed in the East, the Nets sit as as the favorite (+230) to win the NBA championship, per Odds Shark. One potential roadblock to Brooklyn securing an appearance in the NBA Finals and a title, though, is cohesiveness. Due to injuries to the three stars, Durant held out due to COVID-19 protocols and Irving missing games for personal reasons at times, the Nets superstars have only played a total of eight games together all season, going 6-2.

Despite the season-long setbacks in that regard, the Nets appear locked in and ready to make a deep postseason run. Boston of course will give Brooklyn their best shot, but it would be arguably the most stunning development of the NBA season if the Nets got bounced in the first round.

Tipoff for Game 1 in the Nets-Celtics series comes Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET.