Coming off a big win over the 76ers, who seemed ready to give up when asked, the Nets flew to Boston to face the Celtics, who despite a 6-10 record over the past 16 without Rajon Rondo, are a playoff team and have a winning record. The Nets have not had good luck with such teams, often wilting under defensive pressure as they did last week vs. the Bulls.
In fact, they have now lost eight of their last nine games vs. teams with winning records, including on their reasonably successful road trip. They beat five teams with losing records and lost to three teams with winning records. It's no longer a coincidence.
The Nets can do little to affect their playoff position. They're three up over the Bulls with five to go. The Celtics are as stuck at seventh as the Nets are at fourth. The Nets do have two worthy goals: run the table and finish with 50 wins ... and win a season series against the Celtics for the first since 2005-06. The Nets won their first two matches against Boston then lost in the Christmas Day debacle that cost Avery Johnson his job. It won't be easy. to win. It never is at TD Garden. Also, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are playing, but Rondo remains out.
The Nets have one great advantage against Boston: their rebounding prowess, as proven by the win over Philly. The Celtics are 29th. They still play good defense and Jeff Green is looking like the Green Machine's next big star. He has a history of doing well against the Nets as well.
It will be interesting to see if Joe Johnson will play in a back-to-back on the road. He played only 23 minutes over Tim Walsh's watchful eye. Last time the Nets had a back-to-back on the road, Johnson didn't even fly with the team. Then the question will be who will fill in for him, particularly if Keith Bogans is still hurting.
The Nets will travel to Indiana and Toronto as well on this, their last road trip of the regular season. The Celtic game will be televised on ESPN.