Boston will have three well-deserved days off before hosting Utah on Wednesday.
As for tonight, here are a few notable numbers:
– The Celtics fell one steal shy of matching a franchise record.
– The Nets turned the ball over 24 times.
– Boston was 23-of-29 from the line, compared to just 9-of-14 for New Jersey.
– Six Nets played at least 30 minutes. The remaining two who got into the game played 12 or fewer.
Check back soon for a feature on the Celtics' tough stretch, and then follow along with me Wednesday night, courtside at the Garden.
Fourth quarter, 54 seconds, Celtics 84-76: He did it all quarter with his stroke and now Ray Allen does it with his passing.
Allen may have just delivered the crushing blow by threading the needle and finding a streaking Kendrick Perkins for a layup.
Fourth quarter, 2:15, Celtics 82-76: Expect plenty of free throws down the stretch here for the Celtics, who are 21-of-25 from the stripe after going just 9-of-18 on Friday.
By the way, Boston is one steal shy of matching that franchise record of 21.
Fourth quarter, 4:08, Celtics 80-72: Maybe Ray Allen read about my criticisms.
Allen is 4-of-4 in the fourth quarter and just hit consecutive jumpers as the Celtics have matched their largest lead.
Fourth quarter, 5:58, Celtics 74-70: Shelden Williams giving the Celtics some nice minutes here.
He first had a putback on a miss by Rasheed Wallace and just before the break broke free for a Ray Allen feed and got fouled.
I'm not a big fan of the plus/minus rating system, but Williams leads all players with a +11 mark.
Fourth quarter, 7:57, Celtics 70-65: Not a good sequence for Eduardo Najera, but a better one for Ray Allen.
After Allen hit a long jumper, Najera tried to answer and had a wide-open look from 3-point range. But he put a down payment on a condo with a brick off the backboard, and then got schooled by Allen on the other end.
Fourth quarter, 10:00, Celtics 64-61: It's Brian Scalabrine who steps up to the plate for the scuffling C's.
Scalabrine buries back-to-back 3-pointers, the first two of the game for Boston, to give his club the lead.
In the middle of Scalabrine's bombs Rasheed Wallace missed his 10th from the arc.
End of third quarter, Nets 61-59: It's safe to say the Nets are not going anywhere this season but they can go a long way toward building something with 12 strong minutes here.
Despite the Celtics' crazy schedule this would be a notable upset if New Jersey is able to hang on.
The Nets do not have anyone in serious foul trouble and have begun to cut down on their turnovers, giving them a bit of stability entering the fourth.
Boston, meanwhile has to find production from someone other than Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce. Outside of those two the rest of the Celtics have 27 points on 8-of-33 shooting.
Third quarter, 1:10, 59-59: I hate to keep harping on it but the Celts are now 0-of-6 from 3-point range and Rasheed Wallace has missed nine straight from downtown.
Third quarter, 3:00, 57-55: Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are both struggling mightily at the same time for the second time in four games.
Against Philadelphia on Tuesday, the pair scored a combined eight points on 3-of-15 shooting. The Nets have held Allen and Garnett to a 3-of-16 mark.
Therefore, against Atlantic Division opponents the pair is a combined 6-of-31 with 17 points. Yikes.
Third quarter, 4:45, Celtics 55-52: After Rafer Alston knocks down a 3-pointer for the Nets, Rasheed Wallace misses for the eighth straight time from long distance and New Jersey is right back in this.
It looked as if Boston might finally seize control before the Nets' mini 5-0 run.
Third quarter, 7:20, Celtics 52-45: Building on that last note it is now 17 steals for the Celtics and a game-high seven-point lead.
Rajon Rondo has the last two takeaways with easy layups on the other end of both.
Third quarter, 8:32, Nets 47-45: The Celtics have 15 steals with about 21 minutes left in this one.
Their franchise record for steals in a game is 21, accomplished four times, the last coming in 1998 against Orlando.
Something to watch.
The plan I alluded to earlier of getting Pierce the ball seems to be working out so far as Pierce has six of the Celts' eight points this quarter and has given Boston the lead again.
Third quarter, 11:12, Nets 43-41: It appears early in the second half that the Celtics want to get the ball to Paul Pierce, which is a great move.
Pierce gets to the hoop and draws fouls better than anyone Boston has and that's exactly what the club could use facing a depleted Nets bunch.
Halftime, 40-39: Before the game Doc Rivers was asked if the upcoming three days off will be used for rest or practice and he was very quick to say the Celtics would be in the gym.
Whether they are tired from this brutal stretch or simply not executing is hard to tell but the three days will be put to good use.
One aspect of the game that could be caused by fatigue is the outside shooting. The Celtics are now 2-of-17 from 3-point range since halftime of Friday's loss and several of the long jumpers are front-rimmed.
It's hard to imagine a Boston team forcing 15 first-half turnovers against a group of Nets misfits and still trailing, but that's what we see at halftime. New Jersey is outshooting and outrebounding the visitors and has forced nine turnovers of its own.
Rajon Rondo is carrying the Celts with 12 points, three assists and three steals.
Back in a bit for second-half action.
Second quarter, 1:20, Celtics 39-38: That's almost the second time Rajon Rondo made a shot from behind the backboard.
Rondo has missed five straight free throws after bricking a pair.
Second quarter, 2:40, Celtics 39-35: Boston has its first dose of foul trouble and it's no surprise as Kendrick Perkins picks up his third, even though the Celtics had Trenton Hassell bottled up underneath.
The Nets have now turned the ball over 15 times. I'll see if I can track down some franchise records on that end.
Second quarter, 4:57, Celtics 35-35: A few better offensive sets for the C's as they attack the hoop and also get Kevin Garnett an open look outside.
Still, Brook Lopez gets an easy putback and we're tied again.
Second quarter, 6:06, Celtics 31-29: Not a good sign for the Nets as Eduardo Najera, one of their three reserves, is whistled for his third foul.
Paul Pierce makes both free throws as the Celts take a two-point lead for just the second time.
Second quarter, 6:45, Nets 28-27: Sorry for another negative note but in a league filled with annoying public address announcers the Nets' PA guy has to be the worst.
Not only does he say who scored but at times describes the assist as a "pretty feed," among other things.
When the PA guy is offering color commentary we've gone too far.
Second quarter, 7:34, Nets 26-25: If aliens came to Earth and asked to be shown an example of what basketball looks like, the tape of this one should be locked away.
For the third straight game the Celtics have come out flat and trail the Nets, despite forcing 13 turnovers.
Boston has missed its only two 3-point attempts and is now 2-of-16 from beyond the arc since halftime of Friday's loss.
Rasheed Wallace has missed seven straight 3-pointers over his last two games.
Second quarter, 10:09, Celtics 23-21: A very questionable call on Brian Scalabrine, who is whistled for a clear-path foul.
Perhaps the basketball gods were watching as the Nets miss both free throws.
End of first quarter, 18-18: The Celtics end the first quarter on a 6-0 run to tie it.
The substitutions came fast and furious down the stretch in the first as both coaches countered one another.
Lawrence Frank has already used all eight players at his disposal and his team finished the first in dismal fashion.
New Jersey went scoreless over the final five-plus minutes, missing seven shots and turning the ball over four times.
And oh, as we come back from the break we learn that Rasheed Wallace picked up a technical foul, his third already this season.
First quarter, 1:44, Nets 18-14: One thing to watch as we near the second quarter is how both coaches use their bench.
One would think Doc Rivers would want to freely substitute early in order to keep his men fresh and perhaps push the issue against the depleted Nets.
On the other side, Lawrence Frank is resigned to using at least two starters throughout the game, and a pretty quick pace early on could come back to bite them.
The Celtics, by the way, have seven steals already.
First quarter, 4:40, Nets 18-12: The Suns torched the Celtics from the outside on Friday and the Nets appear primed to do the same.
New Jersey is 8-of-12 from the line, including a pair of 3-pointers and two long jumpers for center Brook Lopez.
First quarter, 5:20, Nets 16-12: One note on the Celts' free-throw shooting woes as Bobby Simmons hits a 3-pointer and Brook Lopez scores inside to keep the Nets hot.
Including the second half of Friday's loss to Phoenix, Boston has made just two of its last seven foul shots.
Paul Pierce has picked up his second foul already and Doc Rivers is choosing to go with Brian Scalabrine quickly off the bench.
Scalabrine was not used against the Suns as he was dealing with back spasms.
First quarter, 10:33, Nets 5-2: Some of you may have just heard but Marquis Daniels is out tonight for the Celtics, at home dealing with a family issue.
The Nets' bench meanwhile looks like an ad for Men's Wearhouse, a row of suits along the end of it.
You're gonna like the way you look. I guarantee it. Although I can't guarantee the Nets will like the way the scoreboard looks.
7:20 p.m.: The starting lineups are in and it appears as if the Nets may be working with just eight healthy players tonight.
The Celtics go with the usual starting five of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Kendrick Perkins.
New Jersey rolls out the murderers' row of Rafer Alston and Trenton Hassell at guard, Josh Boone and Bobby Simmons at forward and Brook Lopez at center.
7:05 p.m.: We're about 30 minutes from the tip at The Izod Center and the hits keep coming for the winless Nets.
Already without Devin Harris (groin), Yi Jianlian (knee), Jarvis Hayes (hamstring), Tony Battie (knee) and Keyon Dooling (hip surgery), New Jersey announced Saturday that forward Chris Douglas-Roberts has swine flu.
Also, starting swingman Courtney Lee strained his groin last night in Philadelphia and remains a question mark entering the matchup with the Celtics.
Boston, meanwhile, has managed to avoid the injury bug through a tough opening stretch. On paper, this is a mismatch of magnificent proportions but we'll see how it plays out. Perhaps the Nets' desperation for a win and some fatigue on the part of the Celtics will combine to make this a game.
A matchup to watch is Kendrick Perkins against second-year center Brook Lopez, who leads New Jersey in scoring (17.2) and rebounding (7.8). Perkins averaged 14.5 points and 11 rebounds against Lopez and the Nets last season.
We'll get you the starting lineups in a bit.
12:21 p.m.: Coming off their first loss of the season, the Celtics have a great chance to pick up their seventh win when they face the lowly and short-handed Nets in The Izod Center.
Playing their seventh game in 11 nights, the C's dropped a 110-103 decision to the Suns at TD Garden on Friday night. Kevin Garnett had a season-high 26 points, eight rebounds, two steals and no turnovers in the losing effort.
Boston was done in when it went away from a somewhat dominant inside game and got into a shootout with Phoenix, which made 13-of-24 3-pointers.
The Suns' 110 points is 20 points higher than the previous high for a Celtics opponent.
Do not expect New Jersey to duplicate the Phoenix output. The Nets are one of four NBA teams which average fewer than 90 points per game and are without high-scoring guard Devin Harris, out at least two more weeks with a strained groin.
Harris was one of six injured players when New Jersey lost in Philadelphia on Friday, 97-94. The Nets, who have lost nine straight to the Celtics, are off to their worst start in franchise history.
I'll be following all the action live for you — make sure to follow along.