The Celtics are fresh off losing two games in four days to the Atlanta Hawks — they're discouraged and they're banged up, but now they get to take on the New Jersey Nets.
With just three wins under their belt through nearly half the season, the Nets are hopeless — they've got nothing to look forward to except next May's draft lottery. This could be a good slump-busting outing for the reeling Celtics.
When and Where
Wednesday, Jan. 13, 7:30 p.m. ET (CSNE)
Izod Center, East Rutherford, N.J.
Celtics (26-10, 1st place in Atlantic Division)
Nets (3-34, 5th place in Atlantic Division)
Head to Head
This is the Celtics' second meeting with the Nets this season — they won the first, 86-76, in East Rutherford on Nov. 7. That loss dropped the Nets to 0-7 on the season. Dating back three years, the C's have won 10 games in a row against New Jersey — they haven't lost since February 9, 2007, a 92-78 decision handed down at the TD Garden. Paul Pierce came off the bench in that game and shot an ugly 4-for-16, but he's been much better since.
These Nets aren't just bad — they're historically bad. They're so bad that for any team that loses a game to them, it's the humiliation of the year. So far, the Nets have only managed victories over the Bobcats, Bulls and Knicks — the C's know better than to let themselves into that select group. Injured or not, the Celtics had better win this one.
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Brian Scalabrine
Center: Kendrick Perkins
Point guard: Devin Harris
Shooting guard: Chris Douglas-Roberts
Small forward: Trenton Hassell
Power forward: Josh Boone
Center: Brook Lopez
The Celtics are 7-1 against the rest of the Atlantic Division.
They have scored 100.7 points per game and allowed 93.8 for a scoring differential of plus-6.9. That's the best such mark in the NBA.
Ray Allen has slipped to third in the NBA in free-throw percentage at 90.3 percent. Randy Foye of the Wizards, at 95.1 percent, has vaulted into first.
Rajon Rondo had one steal in the Celtics' loss to Atlanta on Monday night, bringing his league-leading total to 88. He averages 2.5 per game.
Allen leads the Celtics in both three-pointers made (63) and attempted (174), while Paul Pierce shoots at the highest success rate (46.5 percent).
Kendrick Perkins is averaging a career high in rebounds per game (8.2).
Pierce has 6,511 free-throw attempts in his career, 78 off of the Celtics' franchise record held by John Havlicek.
The Nets are 2-15 at home this season.
They shoot 42.0 percent as a team, an NBA worst.
Courtney Lee turns the ball over on 7.9 percent of plays, the fifth-lowest rate in the NBA.
Brook Lopez has made 187 of 224 free-throw attempts this season, or 83.5 percent — a very high percentage for a center.
Yi Jianlian is averaging 15.8 points per game, a seven-point jump from last season and a career high.
Devin Harris leads the Nets with 5.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
In three career meetings with Boston, Chris Douglas-Roberts has a total of 14 points, six rebounds and two assists.
Black and Blue
Kevin Garnett, missing in action this month with a hyperextended knee, worked out for the first time Monday afternoon. He hopes to return within a week or two.
Rasheed Wallace missed Monday night's game against Atlanta with a sore left foot.
Marquis Daniels is recovering from left thumb surgery. He hopes to return in February.
Devin Harris is questionable with right wrist tendinitis.
This Date in Celtics History
In 1988, Robert Parish scores the 15,000th point of his NBA career in a 143-105 win over the Pistons at the old Boston Garden. Parish would retire with 18,245 points in a Celtics uniform — he ranks fourth on the franchise's all-time list behind John Havlicek, Larry Bird and Paul Pierce.
"Making shots is what helps you win games. Missing shots doesn?t help you at all, so you want to make shots and help your team win. You want to play well. But I?m not out there thinking, man, I haven?t made a shot since Christmas. I don?t think about that every time I?m about to shoot. I just think, well, I?ve got to do more. I?ve got to improve today."
—Brian Scalabrine, in Wednesday's Boston Herald, on the increase in shots he's gotten during the absence of Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace.
Doc Rivers got tossed, and the Celtics got rolled.
The Celtics can't figure out Atlanta.
Brian Scalabrine gets his shot.
Kris Humphries will learn to like New Jersey, somehow.
Brook Lopez learns from his idol, Tim Duncan.
The Nets waived an old first-round pick from Boston College.
The authorities continue to investigate Gilbert Arenas.
The Pistons ended a month-long losing streak.
LeBron James has… the hot hand?
No matter their injury situation, no matter their morale, no matter what, the Celtics should win in New Jersey. This is as close to a free win as the NBA has to offer — if the C's can't come away with a victory here, they should seriously start to panic. Against a team like this, the Celtics' worst fear is overconfidence — as long as they stay focused and take the game seriously, they should have no trouble. But how do you take a 3-34 team seriously? There's the real challenge.