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Celtics look to bounce back against surprising Nets Monday night – Sports – The Enterprise, Brockton, MA

The Celtics fell just short against the NBA champion Golden State Warriors Saturday night, and now they take on one of the league’s hottest teams as the homestand continues.

BOSTON – They just finished going toe-to-toe with the team that is favored to win a fourth NBA Championship in five years.

There will be no easing back into the schedule for the Celtics, though, as they must immediately turn their attention to one of the hottest teams in the league.

The surprising Brooklyn Nets, winners of six straight games and 19-5 since Dec. 7, visit the TD Garden Monday night for the second time this month (7:35, TV: NBC Sports Boston; radio: WBZ-FM/98.5).

The atmosphere isn’t expected to be anywhere near as electric as it was on Saturday night when the Celtics fell just short against the Golden State Warriors, making too many mistakes down the stretch in a 115-111 loss.

The Celtics had plenty of opportunities to topple the Warriors, who have won 10 games in a row, but turnovers, missed shots and the inability to rebound a missed free throw added up to their first Garden loss since Dec. 21.

With two more games remaining on a five-game homestand, the Celtics need to get right back on track.

“It is always tough to lose, but we had our chances at the end,’’ said Kyrie Irving Saturday night. “We just couldn’t capitalize on them. It’s a game where we take the lessons and move on, just staying poised to do the little things.

“Obviously going against the best, you don’t have a lot of room to make mistakes. Just cleaning up some of that stuff, but we played pretty well.’’

The Celtics were right there with the Warriors in a game that had 21 lead changes and 14 ties and was highly entertaining.

The teams get together again in Oakland on March 5, and the Celtics hope to be in a better playoff spot than the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference at that time.

If they can keep playing the way they did for a good portion of the game against the Warriors, that will happen.

“I just think that we can play with anyone,’’ said Al Horford. “It was nice to go out there and complete in that way, give ourselves a chance to win there at the end.

“They’re the team to beat. Those guys really understand how to play. They know each other’s strengths and things like that. They play really well, so you have to play almost a flawless game to beat them.’’

Warriors coach Steve Kerr earned his 300th victory in just his 377th game on Saturday night to break Pat Riley’s NBA record for the fewest amount of games needed to reach that milestone.

He was impressed with the Celtics and figures they’ll be right in the middle of the fight for the Eastern Conference title in May.

“They are one of the best teams in the league,’’ said Kerr. “They’re great defensively and they’ve got dynamic offensive players. They’re already one of the best.

“It will be interesting to see this year with LeBron (James) out of the East who comes out of the East and we have a lot of work to do to get out of the West. I think the league is better this year than it’ been in a long time. A lot of great teams, but Boston is clearly a great two-way team and that is what it takes in the playoffs.’’

The Nets and the Celtics will be playing on a Monday night for the third time in January, a rarity. The teams split the previous two games this month with the Nets holding on for a 109-102 victory two weeks ago in New York.

That began the six-game winning streak for Brooklyn, which has gone from 8-18 in early December to 27-23, good for sixth place in the East.

The Nets need one more win to match last season’s win total. They have not made the playoffs since 2015 and have not had a winning record since 2013-14 when Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were there.

Brooklyn will be without its third-leading scorer, Spencer Dinwiddie, who is scheduled to undergo thumb surgery Monday. Dinwiddie is averaging 17.2 points.

The Celtics finish the homestand against the Charlotte Hornets Wednesday night, travel to New York to face the Knicks Friday night, then play four of six games at home before the All-Star break.

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