After cooling off the NBA’s hottest team in their last game, the Boston Celtics will try to extend their winning streak against the team with the league’s worst record.
The Celtics look to win their eighth game in a row since All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo went down on Monday night when they visit the Charlotte Bobcats, losers of seven straight.
Boston (27-23) appeared to be going nowhere fast only two weeks ago when it lost the NBA leader in assists and triple doubles to a season-ending knee injury in the final game of a season-high six-game losing streak.
Instead, the Celtics have responded with a season-best seven consecutive victories – their longest since winning 14 straight in the 2010-11 season.
While four of the first six wins came against teams with losing records, Boston made a big statement on Sunday when it snapped Denver’s nine-game win streak with a 118-114 triple-overtime victory.
“Lot of people still doubt us,” said forward Jeff Green, who hit a 3-pointer to tie the game late in the first overtime. “Can’t come into games thinking we have to impress people.”
Paul Pierce had an impressive performance with 27 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists – the first time in his 15-year career that he’s had that many points, rebounds and assists in the same game.
Jason Terry added a season-high 26 points as the Celtics won despite shooting 39.8 percent from the floor.
With 20 points and 18 rebounds against the Nuggets, Kevin Garnett has averaged 18.6 and 9.8, respectively, in the last eight games.
Garnett, though, has had a tough time against Charlotte, averaging 13.5 points in his last 11 meetings. He had just seven points on 2-of-11 shooting in a 100-89 victory over the visiting Bobcats on Jan. 14.
The Celtics average 96.4 points with 23.4 assists per game on the season, but have scored 105.0 and handed out 25.6 assists in seven games without Rondo.
After having six of the seven wins come at home, Boston will try to keep it going on the road against a Charlotte team that has given up 103.4 points on 49.1 percent shooting in its last five games.
The Bobcats (11-39) have also sputtered offensively, shooting their second-lowest field goal percentage of the season (30.7) in an 87-76 loss at Philadelphia on Saturday.
“At this point, we just need to find ways to win,” guard Gerald Henderson said.
Guard Ramon Sessions led the team with 20 points, while forward Byron Mullens contributed 16 on 7-of-19 shooting.
Mullens has averaged 18.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in two games since returning to the starting lineup.
Guard Kemba Walker will try to break out of his slump after finishing with six points while shooting 2-of-9 from the floor against the 76ers. Walker, the team’s scoring leader at 17.3 points per game, has been held to 10.0 per contest on 34.1 percent shooting in his last four.
He’s also struggled against the Celtics, averaging 9.0 points on 7-of-33 shooting in the last three meetings.
The Bobcats, who have lost 34 of 38, are averaging just 88.0 points – 6.1 below their season average – during their latest losing streak.
It doesn’t figure to get any easier against Boston, which has limited opponents to 91.9 points per game during its tear.
The Celtics have won eight of the last 10 meetings in Charlotte and 10 of 12 in the series overall.