The Boston Celtics will have an opportunity to boost their place in the standings with a pair of relatively easy weekend opponents, although they might have to play their road back-to-back without Rajon Rondo.
Leandro Barbosa filled in fine for Rondo as a scorer Thursday night, putting up 17 points on 11 shots, but he only had two assists and couldn't put the breaks on Deron Williams as the Brooklyn Nets hung around. Joe Johnson drilled some clutch shots, and Paul Pierce missed some big free throws to allow the Nets to get the win.
But the Nets are leaps and bounds better - at least according to the standings - than Boston's next two opponents: first, the Raptors, who snapped a four-game losing streak Tuesday night with a less-than-thrilling 74-72 win against the Indiana Pacers. Paul Pierce will likely be tasked with guarding the hyper-athletic DeMar Derozan, who is leading the way for Toronto with 20 points per game on the season.
Next, the C's head to Detroit, where the Pistons are likely still thrilled just to have won a game on the year, after beating the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night. Detroit started off the year 0-8 as they tried to find wins with Greg Monroe and an aging Tayshaun Prince leading the way offensively, finally breaking through with Monroe's 19-point, 18-rebound night in an 18-point win over Philadelphia. Despite the win, they're still the seventh-worst offensive team in the league and fifth worst on defense, per HoopData's efficiency numbers.
Here's a look at the two games, both of which will be on Comcast Sports-New England:
Saturday, November 17: Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors, 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 18, Boston Celtics vs. Detroit Pistons, 7:30 p.m.