After opening the season as championship favorites, the Brooklyn Nets are instead gone fishing, the first actual playoff participants eliminated from the real postseason tournament after they were swept 4-0 by the Boston Celtics. Though they lost the four games by only a combined 18 points, the Nets often appeared outmanned, outclassed, outexecuted, out-just-about-everything-ed by their opponents on their way to going gentle into that good Brooklyn night.

The Nets’ series loss showcased the shortcomings of their roster construction, including, specifically, just how short so many of their rotation players were. Boston’s size advantage, particularly on the perimeter, was noticeable throughout the series.

The Nets gave just 146 total minutes to players listed between 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-8,1 with 139 of them going to Bruce Brown, who is 6-4. The Celtics gave more minutes to three individual players in that size range (6-8 Jayson Tatum, 6-6 Jaylen Brown and 6-4 Marcus Smart), and 669 total minutes to their five rotation players who met that criteria (that star trio, plus 6-4 Derrick White and 6-6 Grant Williams). Meanwhile, Brooklyn doled out 453 minutes to players listed at 6-foot-3 or shorter (Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, Goran Dragić and Patty Mills), while Boston gave just 46 minutes to its only rotation player of that size (Payton Pritchard).

As a result, the average player on the floor for the Celtics was larger than the average Nets player in just about every way: taller by 1.1 inches, heavier by 13.4 pounds, longer by 1.2 inches.

The Celtics were bigger and longer than the Nets

Average height, weight and wingspan for players on the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets, weighted by minutes played in their first-round playoff series

Celtics78.4 in.215.4 lbs.82.6 in.
Nets77.3 in.202.0 lbs.81.4 in.
Difference1.1 in.13.4 lbs.1.2 in.

Wingspan numbers are unofficial.


Those differences may not seem massive, but they showed up all over the place. The Celtics dominated the offensive glass, corralling 30.1 percent of their missed shots during the series compared with only 23.0 percent for the Nets. Brooklyn’s shots were contested more closely and more often than Boston’s, according to Second Spectrum tracking — and that’s despite Brooklyn taking a far lower share of its shots in the paint, where defenders are better positioned to contest than on the perimeter.