It took a visit from the offensively incompetent Milwaukee Bucks to get the Celtics back on the right track. On Monday night, they will try to keep up the good work against one of their favorite opponents, the New Jersey Nets.
The Celts hit beautiful, downtown Newark to face the Nets at 7 p.m. EDT, on Comcast Sports Net New England. Boston owns New Jersey, having won 15 of 16 since the '06-'07 season, including all three meeting this season, in which the C's have allowed just 79.3 points per game. Given their problems scoring and the Celtics coming off a record-setting performance in holding the Bucks to just 56 points on Sunday night, the circumstances don't bode well for the Nets.
But these aren't necessarily the same lousy Nets that Celts fans know and love. A couple of days before last month's trade deadline, New Jersey acquired star point guard Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz and since then, the Nets are a different team. Williams is averaging 15.8 points and 15.2 assists per game since the deal and the Nets have won four in a row. A win Monday night would give them their first five-game winning streak since the middle of the 2007-2008 season.
The Celts may have played Sunday evening, but they will be well rested for the Nets. No one played more than 30 minutes in the rout of Milwaukee and the entire starting five sat out the whole fourth quarter. Nenad Krstic will be looking for his third straight double-double while Paul Pierce, who scored 31 points the last time these two teams met on Feb. 16, and has averaged 19 points per game in the three meetings with the Nets this year. Glen Davis, who returned from a four-game absence against the Bucks, scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds against Milwaukee, giving the Celts newly constructed bench a much needed shot of experience.
The Nets will counter not only with Williams, but with center Brook Lopez, who has put up 27.4 points on 56 percent shooting over the course of the Nets streak, but has managed just 13 per game in the Nets three games against the Celts this season.
The game will be the Celtics third in four nights and is part of a run of six games in nine days.