Ever now and then, teams lose basketball games. Surprising, isn't it? Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics are not an exception to the rule, no matter how well they had been playing coming into Friday night's game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. Instead of sleep walking through the game as the Celtics apparently planned to, they found themselves in an actual basketball game. And they lost.
Boston will look to get back on track after its unexpected loss to Toronto when it faces the Atlantic Division rival New Jersey Nets at 7:30 p.m. EST on Saturday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey (TV/Radio: CSNNE/WEEI).
The Celtics, who had won four straight and 11 of their last 15 games, were defeated by the Raptors, 84-79, after falling behind by 15 points in the second half before cutting the lead to one point in the final minutes. Alas, it was too little too late. The third quarter was to blame for the loss, as Boston led 36-30 at halftime, and Toronto outscored the C's 27-11 in the period. Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 18 points and Rondo kept his streak alive, dishing out 12 assists to extend his streak of games with double-digit assists to 20. Avery Bradley scored 15 and Kevin Garnett had 13 points and 10 boards.
Boston and New Jersey have met twice the season, and the Celtics have already won the season series, winning 89-70 back on January 4 and again on March 2, a 107-94 victory at TD Garden. In their last meeting, Brook Lopez scored 28 to lead New Jersey, but the Celts scored 29 points in each of the first three quarters on the way to their third straight win. Pierce had 27 points to lead Boston and Garnett had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Deron Williams had 12 points and eight dimes for New Jersey.
The Nets have been playing solid basketball in their previous four games, only losing once. After beating the Wizards and Cavaliers, New Jersey was defeated by the Philadelphia 76ers, 107-88, but responded with a 95-89 win over Philly three days later on April 13. Gerald Green, the former Celtics reserve, had 23 points to pace the Nets in victory.
The storyline for Boston continues to be their final road stretch of the season, as it is in the middle of its only back-to-back-to-back of the season. The trip did not start well in Toronto, and after Saturday's game in New Jersey, the Celtics head south to face the Charlotte Bobcats before returning to the New York area to face the New York Knicks on Tuesday.
SB Nation Boston will be live at the Prudential Center covering tonight's game. Check back for updates.